November 6, 2006

Negative Campaigning

65%

That’s the percentage of voters who say there has been more mud-slinging and negative campaigning this year compared with recent elections. On the eve of the previous midterm, just 51% said that campaign was marred by more mud-slinging, while 52% expressed that view shortly before the 1998 midterms.

This election season finds substantially more voters saying they feel that campaigns have been marred by more “mud-slinging” than in past elections. Overall, 65% of voters — 72% of those who live in congressional districts with competitive contests — say this campaign has more negative campaigning than have past elections; only about half of voters expressed this opinion at the end of the 2002 (51%) and 1998 (52%) midterms. This is one issue on which there is little partisan division. Two-thirds of independents (67%), and nearly as many Democrats (65%) and Republicans (65%), say there has been more negative campaigning than in past elections. Still, the overall level of voter interest in this campaign is much higher than it has been for recent midterms. Fully 61% of voters say they have given a lot of thought to the election, while 33% say they have followed campaign news very closely. This far surpasses interest in the 2002 and the 1998 campaigns, and even the historic 1994 election, when Republicans gained control of Congress. Read More