Byrne on Negative Ads

September 29, 2012

Don’t boo. VOTE! Negative ads are meant to “disgust,” not persuade. They engender a sort of “pox on both their houses” attitude that doesn’t harm the ad sponsors. Negative ads are paid for by supporters of one candidate, not to get you to vote for them,- but to keep you from voting for their opponent.

I actually know this from personal experience. My opponent was well known. I was not. I was called by a polling firm hired to test the effectiveness of certain attacks against me. I told the caller, but she said she needed “men my age” to complete the poll. Let me tell you, that’s a weird experience.

The attacks finally surfaced during the last few weeks of the primary campaign. Turnout was driven by the Colorado U.S. Senate race, not our county commissioner race. It was a simple matter to count the number of people who voted in the Senate race and compare it to the number who voted in ours. Had everyone in the booth voted in our race, and I received all the votes my well-known opponent did not receive, I’d have won. Enough voters – who were apparently not willing to take the time to vote for my opponent – cast ballots. The negative ads stopped them from voting for me. Don’t let the nattering nabobs of negativsm (thanks, Spiro Agnew) stop you from voting. You don’t want to encourage this sort of thing.

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