Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Do Negative Campaigns Mobilize or Suppress Turnout? Clarifying the Relationship between Negativity and Participation

  • Kim Fridkin Kahn (a1) and Patrick J. Kenney (a1)
Abstract

Does negative campaigning influence the likelihood of voting in elections? Our study of U.S. Senate campaigns indicates the answer is “yes.” We find that people distinguish between useful negative information presented in an appropriate manner and irrelevant and harsh mudslinging. As the proportion of legitimate criticisms increases in campaigns, citizens become more likely to cast ballots. When campaigns degenerate into unsubstantiated and shrill attacks, voters tend to stay home. Finally, we find that individuals vary in their sensitivity to the tenor of campaigns. In particular, the tone is more consequential for independents, for those with less interest in politics, and for those with less knowledge about politics.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Abramowitz, Alan I., and Segal, Jeffrey A. 1992. Senate Elections. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Abramson, Paul, and Aldrich, John. 1982. “The Decline of Electoral Participation in America.” American Political Science Review 76 (3): 502–21.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, Behr, Roy, and Iyengar, Shanto. 1993. The Media Game: American Politics in the Television Age. New York: MacMillan.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, and Iyengar, Shanto. 1995. Going Negative: How Political Advertisements Shrink and Polarize the Electorate. New York: Free Press.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, Iyengar, Shanto, Simon, Adam, and Valentine, Nicholas. 1994. “Does Attack Advertising Demobilize the Electorate.” American Political Science Review 88 (4): 829–38.
Alger, Dean E. 1996. The Media and Politics, 2d ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Basil, Michael, Schooler, Caroline, Reeves, Byron. 1991. “Positive and Negative Political Advertising: Effectiveness of Ads and Perceptions of Candidates.” In Television and Political Advertising, Volume 1: Psychological Processes, ed. Biocca, Frank. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Pp. 245–62.
Brians, Craig Leonard, and Wattenberg, Martin P. 1996. “Campaign Issue Knowledge and Salience: Comparing Reception from TV Commercials, TV News, and Newspapers.” American Journal of Political Science 40 (1): 172–93.
Caldeira, Gregory, Patterson, Samuel, and Markko, Gregory. 1985. “The Mobilization of Voters in Congressional Elections.” Journal of Politics 48 (2): 412–22.
Campbell, Angus. 1960. “Surge and Decline: A Study of Electoral Change.” Public Opinion Quarterly 24 (3): 397418.
Campbell, Angus, Converse, Philip, Miller, Warren, and Stokes, Donald. 1960. The American Voter. New York: Wiley.
Clarke, Peter, and Fredin, Eric. 1978. “Newspapers, Television, and Political Reasoning.” Public Opinion Quarterly 42 (2): 143–60.
Congressional Quarterly. 1990. “1990 Senate Election—CQ Calls.” Congressional Quarterly 48 (40): 3280–358. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.
Converse, Philip E. 1962. “Information Flow and the Stability of Partisan Attitudes.” Public Opinion Quarterly 26 (4): 578–99.
Converse, Philip E. 1964. “The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics.” In Ideology and Discontent, ed. Apter, David. New York: Free Press. Pp. 206–61.
Converse, Philip E. 1966. “The Concept of a Normal Vote.” In Elections and the Political Order, ed. Campbell, Angus, Converse, Philip E., Miller, Warren E., and Stokes, Donald E.New York: Wiley. Pp. 939.
Copeland, Gary W. 1983. “Activating Voters in Congressional Elections.” Political Behavior 5 (4): 391401.
Cox, Gary W., and Munger, Michael C. 1989. “Closeness, Expenditures, and Turnout in the 1982 House Elections.” American Political Science Review 83 (1): 217–31.
Doak, David. 1995. “Going Negative: Rethinking the Rules.” Campaigns and Elections 16 (7): 20–1.
Downs, Anthony. 1957. An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper and Row.
Finkel, Steven, and Geer, John. 1998. “A Spot Check: Casting Doubt on the Demobilizing Effect of Attack Advertising.” American Journal of Political Science 42 (2): 573–95.
Franklin, Charles H. 1991. “Eschewing Obfuscation? Campaigns and the Perceptions of U.S. Senate Incumbents.” American Political Science Review 85 (4): 1193–214.
Franklin, Mark. 1996. “Electoral Participation.” In Comparing Democracies, ed. Le Due, Lawrence, Niemi, Richard, and Norris, Pippa. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Pp. 216–35.
Garramone, Gina, Atkin, Charles K., Pinkleton, Bruce E., and Cole, Richard T. 1990. “Effects of Negative Political Advertising on the Political Process.” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 34 (3): 299310.
Germond, Jack W., and Witcover, Jules. 1996. “Why Americans Don't Go to the Polls.” National Journal 28 (47): 2562–4.
Goldenberg, Edie N., and Traugott, Michael W. 1984. Campaigning for Congress. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.
Goldstein, Kenneth. 1997. “Political Advertising and Political Persuasion in the 1996 Presidential Campaign.” Paper presented at the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago.
Goodman, Adam. 1995. “Producing TV: A Survival Guide.” Campaigns and Elections 16 (7): 22–4.
Graber, Doris. 1993. Mass Media and American Politics. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.
Guttman, Amy. 1993. “The Disharmony of Democracy.” In Democratic Community, ed. Chapman, John W. and Shapiro, Ian. New York: New York University Press. Pp. 126–60.
Hamilton, D.L., and Zanna, M.P. 1974. “Context Effects in Impression Formation: Changes in Connotative Meaning.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 29 (5): 649–54.
Herrnson, Paul S. 1995. Congressional Elections: Campaigning at Home and in Washington. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.
Hill, Kim Quaile, and Leighley, Jan E. 1993. “Party Ideology, Organization, and Competitiveness as Mobilizing Forces in Gubernatorial Elections.” American Journal of Political Science 37 (4): 1158–78.
Jacobson, Gary C. 1997. The Politics of Congressional Elections. New York: Longman.
Jamieson, Kathleen Hall. 1992. Dirty Politics: Deception, Distraction, and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Johnson-Cartee, Karen S., and Copeland, Gary A. 1991. Negative Political Advertising: Coming of Age. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Joslyn, Richard. 1984. Mass Media and Elections. Boston: Addison-Wesley.
Just, Marion R., Crigler, Ann N., Alger, Dean E., Cook, Timothy E., Kern, Montague, and West, Darrell M. 1996. Crosstalk: Citizens, Candidates and the Media in a Presidential Campaign. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kahneman, Daniel, and Tversky, Amos. 1979. “Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk.” Econometrica 47 (2): 263–91.
Kahn, Kim F., and Kenney, Patrick J. 1997. “A Model of Candidate Evaluations in Senate Elections: The Impact of Campaign Intensity.” Journal of Politics 4 (4): 1173–205.
Kanouse, David E., and Hanson, L. Reid Jr. 1972. “Negativity in Evaluations.” In Attribution: Perceiving Causes of Behavior, ed. Jones, Edward E., Kanouse, David E., Kelley, Harold H., Nisbett, Richard E., Valins, Stuart, and Weiner, Bernard. Morriston, NJ: General Learning. Pp. 4762.
Kamber, Victor. 1997. Poison Politics: Are Negative Campaigns Destroying Democracy? New York: Plenum.
Key, V.O. Jr. 1956. American State Politics. New York: Knopf.
Key, V.O. Jr. 1964. Politics, Parties, and Pressure Groups, 5th ed. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.
Koutsoyiannis, A. 1977. Theory of Econometrics. Totowa, NJ: Barnes and Noble.
Krasno, Jonathan S. 1994. Challengers, Competition, and Reelection: Comparing Senate and House Elections. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Lau, Richard. 1982. “Negativity in Person Perception.” Political Behavior 4 (4): 353–77.
Lau, Richard. 1985. “Two Explanations for Negativity Effects in Political Behavior.” American Journal of Political Science 29 (1): 119–38.
Leary, Mary Ellen. 1977. Phantom Politics: Campaigning in California. Washington, DC: Public Affairs.
Luntz, Frank I. 1988. Candidates Consultants and Campaigns: The Style and Substance of American Electioneering. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Luskin, Robert. 1987. “Measuring Political Sophistication.” American Journal of Political Science 31 (4): 856–99.
Mayer, William G. 1993. “Trends: Trends in Media Usage.” Public Opinion Quarterly 57 (4): 593611.
McGraw, Kathleen M., and Steenbergen, Marco. 1997. “Pictures in the Head: Memory Representation of Political Candidates.” In Political Judgment: Structure and Process, ed. Lodge, Milton and McGraw, Kathleen M.Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Miller, Warren E., Kinder, Donald R., Rosenstone, Steven J., and the National Election Studies. 1993. American National Election Study: Pooled Senate Election Study, 1988, 1990, 1992 [computer file] (Study #9580). Conducted by University of Michigan, Center for Political Studies. 2d ICPSR ed. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, Center for Political Studies/Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research [producers], 1993. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1993.
Miller, Warren E., and Shanks, J. Merrill. 1996. The New American Voter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Patterson, Samuel, and Caldeira, Gregory. 1983. “Getting Out the Vote: Participation in Gubernatorial Elections.” American Political Science Review 77 (3): 675–89.
Powell, G. Bingham. 1986. “American Voter Turnout in Comparative Perspective.” American Political Science Review 80 (1): 1743.
Ragsdale, Lyn, and Rusk, Jerold G. 1995. “Candidates, Issues, and Participation in Senate Election.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 20 (3): 305–28.
Richey, Marjorie H., Bono, Frank S., Lewis, Helen V., and Richey, Harold W. 1982. “Selectivity of Negative Bias in Impression Formation.” Journal of Social Psychology 116 (1): 107–18.
Roddy, Brian L., and Garramone, Gina M. 1988. “Appeals and Strategies of Political Advertising.” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 32 (4): 415–27.
Rosenstone, Steven J., and Hansen, John Mark. 1993. Mobilization, Participation, and Democracy in America. New York: Macmillan.
Southwell, Priscilla L. 1991. “Voter Turnout in the 1986 Congressional Elections.” American Politics Quarterly 19 (1): 96106.
Squire, Peverill, Wolfinger, Raymond E., and Glass, David P. 1987. “Residential Mobility and Vote Turnout.” American Political Science Review 81 (1): 4565.
Teixeira, Ruy A. 1992. The Disappearing American Voter. Washington, DC: Brookings.
Thorson, Esther, Christ, William G., and Caywood, Clark. 1991. “The Effects of Issue-Image Strategies, Attack and Support Appeals, Music, and Visual Content in Political Commercials.” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 35 (4): 465–86.
West, Darrell M. 1997. Air Wars: Television Advertising in Election Campaigns, 1952–1996. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.
Westlye, Mark C. 1991. Senate Elections and Campaign Intensity. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Wolfinger, Raymond E., and Rosenstone, Steven J. 1980. Who Votes? New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Zaller, John R. 1992. Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 37 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1829 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st May 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.