Jim Hoeft recently conducted a poll of Bearing Drift readers. His main question was who benefits more from negative ads, the Democrats or Republicans. Well, the results are in, and Bearing Drift readers said Democratic candidates gain more by going on the attack.
What prompted the poll, and Jim’s thoughts on the subject, was his and his fellow Bearing Drift contributors’ contention that Democrats are running nastier, more negative and more unfair campaigns than their Republican counterparts. In fact Jim states:
Well, no. Actually Bearing Drift readers are just very one sided and can’t see their own double standard at work.
So, the result of the poll is pretty clear: The only way Democrats can win is to tear down good people and obfuscate the truth.Bearing Drift readers are very astute.
Indeed, Bearing Drift was the blog that ran this and crowed proudly about somebody’s “Willie Horton moment.” Now Willie Horton is synonymous with both racism and negative campaigning. So why Brian Kirwin, who posted it, would even be proud of this and then turn around to complain about the other side being negative is totally beyond me. But I think Bearing Drift does get the Chutzpah award this year.
Furthermore, if Bearing Drift’s consistently fair, high minded, and always positive Republican readers really believe what they are saying about attack ads, I’d like to know if they consider this ad, launched in September by the RPV, to be a truthful and positive ad?
In fact, it was pulled from the RPV Website almost immediately, not because their communications director, Shaun Kenney, and the other members of the RPV, suddenly developed a conscience that told them it was the wrong thing to do, but because they feared the blowback from something so patently absurd. Morality had nothing to do with their retraction. Simple pragmatism did. You know that’s true because they certainly haven’t declared a moratorium on other negative campaign ads against their Democratic opponents.
In fact, as today’s Washington Post points out in this article, this has been one of the most hard fought campaign seasons in Virginia history. And both sides have gone negative even earlier than usual. But as this shows, some Republicans have added an even nastier fillip to the usual brew of negative charges and counter charges with accusations that Governor Tim Kaine and other Democrats support terrorism in Virginia. The charge was levelled against the Democrats because they have reached out to Northern Virginia’s Muslim community and to its largest mosque in Falls Church, Virginia.
The problem is that, despite their denials, Republicans have inserted bigotry and racism into the campaign. And even some of their fellow party members, who run for office and represent Northern Virginia and, who have Muslim supporters and constituents, are objecting to these extreme charges, as Delegate Tom Rust did. Here’s the entire quote from the Washington Post, including quotes from political science professor, Mark Rozell and others as well as Rust:
As Republicans work to retain their majorities in the General Assembly, the two delegates from the Shenandoah Valley say they are conducting an investigation into Democrats' ties to the Muslim American Society and Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center, both in Falls Church.
Dels. C. Todd Gilbert (Shenandoah) and C.L. "Clay" Athey Jr. (Warren) allege that the society and mosque have links to terrorism, even though federal officials have found no such connection.
The delegates have been trying to connect Kaine and other Democrats to prominent Muslim leaders affiliated with the organizations. On Friday, Gilbert and Athey released a photograph of Kaine speaking at a Muslim American Society dinner this spring.
Politics and campaigning have stooped to a new low when the governor of Virginia's effort to reach out to people of all faiths and races is characterized as an association with terrorists," said Delacey Skinner, the governor's communications director.
Several political observers predicted the GOP effort to link Democrats to terrorists will backfire and cost the party votes in the Nov. 6 election, when all 140 seats in the legislature are on the ballot.
"The idea is such a stretch, so beyond the realm of believability, this just strikes most people as either ridiculous or just political desperation," said Mark J. Rozell, a political science professor at George Mason University. "The people doing this risk alienating a growing segment of the population and don't really gain anything substantial in return."
The Republican-controlled General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution in 2005 praising Mukit Hossain, one of the Muslim American Society's leaders, after the Herndon Times named him its citizen of the year. Hossain was honored because he raised $10,000 to buy coats for day laborers.
Del. Thomas David Rust (R-Fairfax), one of the co-sponsors of the resolution honoring Hossain, said Gilbert and Athey should temper their investigation.
"I know Mukit; he is a friend of mine. I have lots of friends in the Muslim community, and I am very disappointed this is going on," Rust said.
The irony of this, of course, is that both Delegates Gilbert and Athey are running unopposed. But they have an interest in preventing the Democrats from gaining control of the state Senate and House. That’s a very real possibility this year. Especially the Senate.
And that’s the reason there is so much negative campaigning this year. So much is at stake and the simple truth is negative ads work.
Republicans have accepted this reality and embraced the strategy and tactics of negative campaigning for years. Lots of Republicans may not like it. Indeed, I think there are many Republicans who are good and decent people and they are embarrassed when their candidates go too far, just as there are many Democrats who would rather eschew all attack ads.
But the fact is if you want to win an election and you really believe your ideas will move the state and the nation in a better direction that will help more people, you don’t lie down and let the other side Swiftboat you while you stick to the high road. Democrats, especially, have tripped too many times on that rocky road. And too much is at stake to buy that siren song about being nobler than the other side.
So, ok Jim and Brian, if you really believe what you are saying here, you get your side to lay down their swords first and conduct a really positive campaign. Show us how to do it and lead by example rather than just complain about what we are doing to your side.
Truthfully, I don’t think you will do that for the same reason we won’t. But let’s at least be honest about it. Both sides do the same thing. It’s not right. But it’s effective. And neither side will quit. In fact, to do so would be to abdicate the election. And that would be wrong too In fact, only a bully who doesn't want a fair fight would even suggest it.