Negative campaigning is frequently denounced, but it is not well understood. Who conducts negative campaigns? Do they work? What is their effect on voter turnout and attitudes toward government? Just in time for an assessment of election 2004, two distinguished political scientists bring us a sophisticated analysis of negative campaigns for the Senate from 1992 to 2002. The results of their study are surprising and challenge conventional wisdom: negative campaigning has dominated relatively few elections over the past dozen years, there is little evidence that it has had a deleterious effect on our political system, and it is not a particularly effective campaign strategy. These analyses bring novel empirical techniques to the study of basic normative questions of democratic theory and practice.
Negative Campaigning is a timely and important book written by two leading political scientists. Using sound evidence and much good sense, these scholars have truly advanced our understanding of attack politics in Senate elections. Political observers of all stripes should, after reading this book, be less worried about the pernicious effects of negativity on our political system. There is far too much negativity about negativity and this book provides a much-needed corrective to such views.--John G. Geer, Vanderbilt University