Negative political ads, can they reduce voter turnout?

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Negative campaign advertisements have been around since the 19th century, but how effective are they? John Cartier, a Duluth resident, said he many of his friends and family hates seeing campaign ads.

“Those that see these negative ads, it really infuriates them because they know it’s not true. And so it makes them want to call their neighbors and their friends and say, you better go out and vote.” Cartier said.

According to a study at the University of California San Diego, when using a negative ad effectively, it can potentially impact a person’s mindset on a candidate. Although, these campaign advertisements are effective when they utilize them sparingly.

Professor Steven Schier, who specializes in political science, explained people remember the negativity of ads, more than positive ads.

“We are programed to look for looming threats on the horizon, and negative information therefore is weighed more significantly by people than positive information. Obviously ads play on that.” Schier said.

However, studies also show that when people watch positive campaign ads, there was a potential increase in voter turnout. According to Schriver, a candidate using attack ads closer to the election, it means the candidate has fewer support.

“You can tell if the candidate is behind if they’re running negative ads at the end of the campaign because if they’re ahead, they will try and reassure voters with positive advertising messages. So watch this weekend and see which campaign is more negative than the other. That is the candidate who is behind.” Schier said.

WDIO had another story about people in the Northland’s thoughts about the election. You can read that story here

If you are interested in seeing examples of campaign ads, you can look here