A Roy Morgan Poll conducted yesterday in the US showed negative voter reactions to political campaigning that focused on attacking opponents in the upcoming mid-term elections.

Using an online sample of 528 people across the USA, Roy Morgan used real time reaction feedback measures as the participants watched the campaign ads of candidates for senate. 

The reaction to the two negative ads, ‘Defeat Congressman Owen’ by Revere America, and Jack Conway attacking Rand Paul, was negative.

“As has been noted in previous political ad research, electors typically react negatively to negative or critical communication,” reads a Roy Morgan release.

Jack Conway’s negative ad attacking Rand Paul received a poor reaction as well. By comparison, Christine O’Donnell’s two ‘I’m You’ ads, which countered vicious attacks on her, achieved extremely positive reactions, even among Democrats.

Don Sharples, senior consultant at Socom, a communications firm that has worked with government, still believes negative ads can work.

“If you ask people if they don’t like negative campaigning, they are always going to say they don’t,” he tells Marketing magazine. “People do respond to fear strongly, and we’ve seen campaigns won time and again on it.”

“But an interesting thing with the last election was a lot of the public discussion was questioning ‘why isn’t there anything that’s positive?’ It was just politicians shooting each other’s ideas down, people felt there weren’t a lot of positive ideas.”
Sharples also says falling into negative campaigning is an easy trap for parties.

“The being negative is the more risk free alternative to being positive, being positive means you’re putting out more ideas leaves you open to criticism, so its pretty tempting to be critical yourself.”