CHICAGO (CBS) — As the 2014 election cycle comes to an end, we have seen the usual spate of negative ads being launched by campaigns in Illinois and all over the country. This is not a new phenomenon, as they appear to be as nasty and plentiful as ever.
But as I sit through commercial breaks during 5, 6, and 10 p.m. newscasts, I am intrigued by the sheer volume of those attack ads, and their increasingly harsh tenor.READ MORE: 8-Year-Old Boy Shot, Killed While Playing On Front Porch In Markham
That got me thinking, “Do these negative ads really work?”
I wanted to see what folks thought so I went to Facebook and posted the following question on my page, “No surprise. It’s another election cycle full of negative, attack ads. Obviously political operatives wouldn’t allow them to air if they thought they didn’t work. As a viewer/voters are you swayed by those ads, or do they turn you off.”
The responses came quick, and overwhelmingly the people said they were a turn-off.
Many responses were like this one from Lorri, “Totally turned off. Tell me what you are going to do, not what the other candidate didn’t do.”
Or this answer from Rob, “I do believe they probably make watching any local newscast across the country, as we shall say, less good!”
And Jayson weighed in with this, “They seem so childish and annoying. ‘May the best man win by making the other look as bad as possible.’…Bogus.”
There were a few that had a different take, like William who said, “Just both sides looking for uninformed voters.”
Or David who seems to enjoy them, “My wife and I get a kick out of them, it seems like the same three people do the voice over [on the commercials].”READ MORE: Vandal Caught On Camera Trashing Trader Todd's Bar In Lakeview, Leaving Racist And Threatening Graffiti
So if they are such a big turnoff, at least to my “focus group”, why do they air with such great frequency and intensity?
I posed that question to long-time Chicago political observer Paul Green from Roosevelt University.
His answer was multi-layered.
“The smartest people in politics run the campaigns, obviously [the ads] work or they wouldn’t use them,” Green began.
He went on to say that “the candidate telling the truth the entire campaign would lose,” even though the voters say they want to hear about the issues.
And Green ended with this nugget.
“Some believe in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, but most [voters] are not knowledgeable about the issues.”
So, the season of embellished and dramatic attack ads is coming to an end. I can’t tell you if there will be an “October Surprise”, a last minute scandal that might sway the voters for or against a particular candidate.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Beach Hazards
I can tell you that come Wednesday, Nov. 5, we’ll be back to advertisements for cars, banks, and fast food!