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The Filthy Secret Behind Political Attack Ads: They Work!


You are baaack!

Yes, those nasty political aggression ads you hate have returned with a vengeance, flooding television screens, social media sites, and radio stations as the federal elections enter their hectic final stages.

In fact, virtually all of the positive campaigns you saw or heard at the start of the election campaign that extolled the virtues of party leaders are history.

And be prepared for even more negative ads this coming weekend as polls suggest the Liberals and Conservatives are in a virtual tie for first place at this point in the race.

Politicians know you hate these negative ads. Gee, they’ll even tell you that they hate her too. But the truth is that politicians and their campaign strategists love them.


Simply because they work!

Currently, the wealthy Conservatives are leading the indictment with hard-hitting ads attacking Justin Trudeau as a leader who puts himself first.

“Trudeau has not promised a pandemic election,” sounds a television commercial that is often shown. “But he called you anyway and put his ambition first. He didn’t think about what’s good for you. He only thought of himself. We can’t afford more of that. “

For their part, the Liberals’ attack reports focus on the “Take Back Canada” slogan used by Erin O’Toole during his 2020 party leadership campaign.

“Erin O’Toole says he wants to retake Canada,” says the voice in the Liberals’ ad. “Back to private, for-profit healthcare. Back to the days when assault weapons were legal. Back to the MPs who are pushing anti-abortion laws. The Conservative Party and Erin O’Toole: Don’t let Canada take you back. “

The NDP runs a series of anti-Trudeau ads on a number of subjects, such as caring for the elderly, with the announcer saying that Trudeau is “saying the right thing at election times, but he has no intention of doing” and that End slogan: “Justin Trudeau is all talk, no action.”

Often times, in the final stages of an election campaign, a desperate politician gives up any excuse to discuss problems and instead pumps tons of money into ugly attack ads.

Narrow choices are usually the most negative. Candidates can use the ads to solidify their voter base by adding to doubts voters may have about an opponent.

That seems to have happened to Trudeau and the Liberals.

David Herle, a top strategist for former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin and a former campaign manager for the Ontario Liberals, said on the Curse of Politics podcast after last week’s English-language televised debate that “the debate is obvious to me” that we understand will only win if O’Toole is disqualified. So I think, in all honesty, you need to double up on the negatives of the past week. It is not a positive last week, it is negative for the last week. “

Attack reports work because they have an unconscious impact on how voters perceive candidates. This is true even for voters who claim they strongly disapprove of such ads, as shown by extensive US studies of American election ads, where billions of dollars are spent on presidential elections and more than 60 percent of all ads are rated negative.

According to campaign marketers, the key to successful attack ads is repetition, not content.

It’s the negative ads that voters remember. They define an opponent and shape voters’ views of them.

Attack ads shouldn’t cause people to change their minds on how they’re going to vote. Instead, the ads can reinforce a negative opinion some voters already have about a particular candidate and lead voters to make sure they get out and vote against that candidate.

What can voters do about negative ads?

First, write or call politicians to tell them you’ve had enough of these ads and are no longer creating them. Second, find out for yourself where the executives stand on the issues; do not rely solely on paid advertisements from the parties.

Only by taking steps like this will we have a chance to contain advertising and prevent Canadian elections from falling into the sump of hatred and division that is now marking the American presidential election.


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