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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: negative campaign

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July 31, 2012 at 6:45 AM

Negative campaigning on the rise? Social media make it seem so

Digital media channels offer political parties new platforms to raise money, promote events, and educate voters about their candidates. Unfortunately much of that space is used for negative campaigning.

SEATTLE — Something is rotten in the state of Washington. It’s political campaign season again, which we all know means a fair share of negative campaigning. Yet this year, catty comments and juvenile jibes seem to be flooding inboxes, political party websites, Twitter feeds, and Facebook posts more than ever.

Both major parties are guilty.

A scan of Washington State Republican and Democratic party home pages shows that negative campaigning against political opponents outweighs any serious discussion of issues. These home pages make it clear both parties have their eyes on the governor’s race.

Washington Democrat and Republican web sites

Screen captures of Washington State Democratic (left) and Republican party (right) websites on July 21, 2012.

On July 21, 2012, the Washington State Democrats home page “Featured News” section linked to three unfavorable stories about presumed Republican nominee Rob McKenna — the Washington State Attorney General. One of its five featured photos also targeted McKenna.

That same day, the Washington State Republican Party home page featured a video criticizing likely Democratic nominee Jay Inslee for resigning his U.S. Representative seat to run for governor. This video appeared alongside an article titled “Irrelevant Facts by Jay Inslee.”

Is it possible this campaign has become more negative than previous campaigns even though it has barely begun?

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