It seems like political campaigns have gotten dirtier with each election cycle. How much lower is there for campaigns to go?
A lot lower, according to a new study conducted by Wesleyan University. The Wesleyan Media Project found that political advertising over the past two weeks was more negative than during the same period in the 2010 and 2012 elections.
In U.S. Senate races, 55 percent of ads aired over the last two weeks were negative, meaning the ad only criticized the opponent. Another 17.5 percent of Senate ads aired in the past two weeks were "contrast ads," or ads that mention both the opponent and the sponsor's favored candidate. Just 27.5 percent of the ads were positive. By comparison, ads for gubernatorial and House races over that period were more than 40 percent negative.
Ads for both House and Senate races have become increasingly negative since 2010. Between 2012 and 2014, the share of negative ads for gubernatorial campaigns jumped by 20 points—from 23.3 percent to 43.8 percent.
"So far the 2014 midterms are seeing increased volume and increased negativity over 2010, which is going to make citizens even less happy with the tone of the airwaves," Michael Franz, the Wesleyan Media Project's co-director, said. "Evidence from political science suggests, however, that citizens may be more informed as a result of the negativity."