Lau and Gerald M. Pomper, "Negative Campaigning by U.S.
Senate Candidates," Party Politics, 7 (January 2001),
The American electoral process is under attack - not from
revolutionaries, but from democratic observers. `Campaign
discourse is failing the body politic in the United States',
writes a leading analyst (Jamieson, 1992: 11) expressing a
fear widely shared. Of particular concern is an asserted
increase in negative campaigning, as measured by political
advertising (JohnsonCartee and Copeland, 1991; Kaid and
Johnston, 1991; Jamieson, 1992; West, 1993; Ansolabehere and
Iyengar, 1995; Geer, 1998), and a concomitant decrease in
the civility of political campaigns.
Figure 1: Negative Campaigning in US Senate Elections p.
Table 1: Who uses negative campaigning? A preliminary look
Table 2: A multivariate analysis of the use of negative
campaigning by US Senate candidates p. 79
Table 3: First-stage regressions predicting use of negative
campaigning by opposing candidate p. 82
We can also frankly recognize that there are many instances
when we should want candidates to engage in negative
campaigning (see also Mayer, 1996). When an incumbent has a
poor record in a particular area, shouldn't she be held
accountable for it? If a candidate makes a wrong-headed
proposal, shouldn't he be taken to task for it? In such
instances, criticism of an opponent is a healthy, legitimate
part of democratic dialogue. Campaign lies and distortions
are unhealthy for democracy and to be discouraged as much as
possible, but this adage is equally true whether the liesare
aimed at an opponent or used to falsify a candidate's own
merits. Better campaigning requires better discourse,
however phrased. Our goal should be better politics, not
more refined politesse.