According to a Knights of Columbus-Marist poll, the majority of Americans believe political campaigning and the advertising associated with it has gotten more negative in recent years, and they don’t like it.
Here are the major findings of the poll:
* 78% are frustrated with the tone of campaigns
* 74% believe campaigns have gotten more negative than in the past
* 66% say candidates spend more time criticizing their opponent instead of addressing the issues
* 64% say the negativity is harmful to the political process
* 56% say the tone of campaigns is “mostly uncivil and disrespectful,” compared to 37% who think they are civil and respectful. The 56% grows to 59% when the answer pool is limited to registered voters.
“The American people want and deserve civility and a conversation on the issues rather than the personal vilification of political opponents,” said Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “As this current data makes all too clear, the American people want a political discussion that is civil and respectful. As Americans, we understand that we may not agree on every aspect of every issue, but we also understand that how we disagree says a great deal about who we are as a nation.”
RBR-TVBR observation: This is not even remotely surprising; in fact, we are sure we’ve heard this before and do not believe the sentiment is new at all. Nor do we believe negative campaigning is on the increase, because it’s been intolerably high for years, at least as far back as the campaigning style of the late political operative Lee Atwater in the 1980s, and we’re also sure he wasn’t the one who invented it.
At any rate, most people we know do not take the time to acquaint themselves with the candidates or the issues on more than a cursory basis, so the unfortunate fact is that campaigners are reduced to shouting out memorable and short messages to try and get anything at all to break through the sphere of apathy.
The result is far less than conducive for thoughtful consideration of the pros and cons of the issues and the viability of each candidate’s approach to solving them, but it is what it is.
However, as I’ve been pointing out lately as a resident in an already-hotly-contested battleground state, we are sick of political ads period and are doing our best to tune them all out.