Are “Attack Ads” truly effective for college students? 2014 Gubernatorial Race.

By: Cam Jandrow

WORCESTER – According to the Nielsen Company (2011), approximately 96.7 percent of American households own and use a television set. Political parties have this in mind when they use resources to shoot their campaign ads because they know that it will be seen. According to the Washington Post, the amount spent on political television advertising will reach roughly $2.4 billion this year, which is a $100 million dollar increase from the previous election period. Here is an example of what the MA Gubernatorial candidates are spending their money on:

Attack Ads have become the backbone of some political campaigns, as TV ads are among the top of the list in terms of campaign dollars spent. But do they actually work? I surveyed students on the campus of Assumption College and around the city of Worcester to get their input on the situation (last names excluded to maintain anonymity).

Scott R.: “These ads are a waste of time because they are obviously bias. I feel a political commercial would be better if a candidate came forward and told us what he was about straight-up.”

Donna J.: “They are helpful sometimes, but a lot of the time they put people in an uncomfortable position. Sometimes you just don’t know who to go for because of the back-and-forth nonsense.”

Joshua D.: “I base my voting decisions on debates and research only. The commercials on television just seem to get way out of control. I look for the facts of both sides rather than listen to what a single side has to say about themselves. They would obviously out themselves on another level, that’s the point. Numbers, statistics, and debates don’t lie or show bias.”

These ads seem to be harsh towards opponents for obvious reasons. Even if one agrees with the core message, the tone may be a bit extreme. Charlie Baker, Republican candidate for Massachusetts, agreed with the message of his own ad but also believed it was too much (see video below):

Via @bostonherald 

Though this method has a massive outreach, it seems like political attack ads are doing more harm than they are good. When surveying students on campus, approximately 80% of them stated that they would rather look up and research each candidate than pay attention to the information delivered through television.

In an age where technology is so prominent and information is available to us with the press of a button, it looks as if the attack ads are on the downfall. But in reality, the amount spent on these ads are reaching record highs. But according to the Campus Vote Project, voting numbers for the youth over the last decade has seen a significant decrease. Possible correlation? Who knows?

Additional Source: http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2011/nielsen-estimates-number-of-u-s-television-homes-to-be-114-7-million.html

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