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Are you less likely to vote for a candidate that uses negative advertisement?

The 2018 Midterm Election season is finally winding down and, according to a study recently published by the The Wesleyan Media Project – which tracks and analyzes all broadcast advertisements aired by or on behalf of federal and state election candidates in every media market in the country – negative ads
on the air are up by 61 percent over the 2014 midterms.

Negative ads are one of the many tools deployed by campaigns to create a counter-narrative to the pristine story posited by their opponent, but candidates run the risk of souring a voter's opinion of themselves when using them. At their core, negative advertisements are aimed at producing an emotional and visceral response from the voters and they are not known for encouraging intellectual or rational decision making.

However, the benefit is that negative advertising encapsulates the sometimes unexpressed Achilles’ heel of one’s opponent – letting voters make their decisions not just based on policy positions, but on character, judgment, experience and the ability of a candidate to accomplish their agenda.

Negative ads are effective, especially with undecided or independent voters, in branding a candidate’s weaknesses. However, such ads, can flirt with the edge of truth to score emotional points and win votes.