Why is the presidential campaign so negative?
Most pundits are focusing on the small percentage of undecided, “persuadable” voters in what is turning out to be a very tight race (in most of the battleground states, Romney appears to be trailing within the margin of error). But since it’s a rule of thumb that negative advertising is frowned upon generally, the negative nature of both campaigns seems to suggest something else. As pollster Scott Rasmussen has noted, most voters see this race as a referendum on Obama. What the Obama campaign is likely worried about is the hidden vote – Democrats who tell a pollster that they are likely to vote and that they are supporting Obama. My guess is, given the kind of general disenchantment, a small percentage of that group may end up not voting for the top of the ticket, not voting at all, or even voting for Romney. What the Romney camp is worried about is much more clear cut – that in the end, Obama’s personal favorability will carry the day. Thus, for both sides, the strategy seems to be more along the lines of suppressing the other guy’s ability to draw undecideds; in other words, the negativity may stem from a strategy aimed at frustrating a swing percentage of voters.
Example of a hidden voter: