posted on January 24, 2014 13:45
Whenever you think political discourse can’t get coarser, somebody comes along and proves you wrong. Especially super-PACs, which are basically piggy banks for political consultants who make big bucks by making over-the-top ads that make the people writing the checks happy but flop with voters. (See: Karl Rove, Crossroads GPS, 2012 elections.)
Carter and I got to talking about the hyperbole, overstatement and over-the-top rhetoric. We both have a suspicion that voters are on to the game; as soon as they hear the dark music and voice of doom that scream “political ad,” they tune out. Then Carter sent me some research that bears out our suspicion.
The Global Strategy Group studied the question: “How can candidates be more believable when talking about their opponents?” It concluded: “Cut the hyperbole, exaggeration and name-calling.” It elaborated:
“Eliminating hyperbole, embellishment and exaggeration leads to more credible messaging about opponents
“Given the need to break through, campaigns often dial up the heat to make their message as incendiary as possible. But our research shows that doing so makes messages less credible and thus less effective. Voters react better when there is no hyperbole or extraneous name-calling.
“GSG asked voters about a series of descriptions of their member of Congress. Half of voters heard descriptions with adjectives that summed up the negative with a pointed characterization, while the other half heard descriptions that did not include the additional adjectives.
“When asked if their member of Congress ‘has positions that are not moderate and lack common sense,’ 49% of voters agree the statement is true. But when asked if their member ‘has extreme and radical positions that are not moderate and lack common sense,’ just 27% agree – a 22-point decrease in believability. Similarly, when asked if their member ‘is a career politician who uses the title and office for personal financial gain,’ 52% agree. However, when asked if the member ‘is a corrupt career politician who uses the title and office for personal financial gain,’ just 31% agree – a 21-point drop.
“Eliminating hyperbole in ways beyond the characterization of an opponent also boosts credibility. Fifty-seven percent of voters say it is true that their member ‘hasn’t accomplished very much, and someone else could be more effective,’ but just 48% agree when the statement says their member ‘hasn’t accomplished anything at all, and someone else could be more effective’.”
One of the plagues of modern campaigns is consultants out to prove the’re the toughest SOBs in town. Their tough talk might impress their clients. But voters see through it.
Friday, January 24, 2014 2:05 PM
What you're pointing out here looks like it has some merit. I hate mean, hateful and demeaning political ads. It turns me off even if I like the candidate that is putting them out. I started thinking about what you're saying with how people react or feel with just a few changes in wording. It explains EXACTLY what I have said for years with regard to polls and how they are taken and how the questions are asked in gathering the data. Just by changing one or two words in how any particular question is asked about a candidate or a political position or a political party etc, a polling agency can get a desired response in just so many instances. And, they do this all of the time in my opinion on both sides of the political equation in America.
One more thing. Gary, just so many of your Front Page posts here are anti-republican and many are specifically anti-republican candidate or governor or representative or senator etc. In many cases, they are full of snarky remarks and often laced with name calling and hyperbole and embellishment. Perhaps you should take heed of what this post you're presenting here is saying yourself.
Saturday, January 25, 2014 2:21 AM
The Democrats don't overstate. Republicans really do hate women. Republicans really want to throw old people off cliffs. Republicans really do hate gays and minorities. Not sure what you mean when you say both sides overstate. I think you need to re-think what you are saying here.
Sunday, January 26, 2014 12:09 PM
The hate ads work, or they would not run them. Us against them. They are trying to kill us. They want us to starve, they just don't like us, they want us to remain poor. Actually they don't want us to remain poor, they do however need us to remain poor, that way they have our votes.