Saturday, July 19, 2008

Public Opinion Optimistic on Unfair Campaigning?

Gallup reports that a majority of Americans is optimistic that both John McCain and Barack Obama will campaign respectably, not sinking to unfair mudslinging:

Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain have both claimed that they will not engage in below-the-belt attacks during this race. And while the candidates have made some pointed comments regarding their issue differences, they have largely refrained from intense personal attacks to this point. History has shown, however, that campaigns tend to get considerably more negative as Election Day approaches, so it is an open question as to whether the candidates will keep their promises for the duration of the campaign.

A recent USA Today/Gallup survey shows that most Americans are at least somewhat optimistic that one or both candidates will follow through on that promise. But a variety of data show that many people view the tone of a race from a partisan perspective. As a result, there is likely to be little agreement about what constitutes fair or unfair attacks on the campaign trail once the general-election advertising season begins in earnest.

In the June 15-19 USA Today/Gallup poll, Americans were asked about the likelihood that the presidential candidates would keep their promises to refrain from personal attacks. Specifically, respondents were asked "Both John McCain and Barack Obama have said they want to conduct a presidential campaign based only on the issues and not based on personal attacks. How likely do you think (John McCain/Barack Obama) is to conduct a campaign based only on the issues?"

Going Negative?

See also, Stephen Ansolabehere and Shanto Iyengar , "How Negative Campaigns Shrink Electorate, Manipulate News Media."