Last updated: October 29, 2010 - 8:23am
It's not the "Party of Hope" right now - many embattled Democrats have gone negative. Many Democratic candidates, faced with running on accomplishments that haven't been embraced by voters, are using a tested, if unsavory, tactic: attacking their opponents' character, according to data provided by a new study.
The strategy of these Democrats is to turn the election from a referendum on their record into a choice - one where the other side is "too extreme," a label that has become a common refrain in TV ads across the country. An analysis of advertising by the Wesleyan Media Project shows that Democratic candidates are running a higher percentage of negative ads and are more likely to go after their opponents' personal characteristics instead of their policy positions.
Data collected by the project show that 29 percent of Democratic House and Senate candidates' ads are negative, up from 13 percent in 2008. By comparison, Republicans' share of attack ads has dropped from 28 percent to 21 percent. Further, 35 percent of the negative ads run by Democrats are focused exclusively on policy. By contrast, Republicans were focused exclusively on policy 57 percent of the time. Democrats say their ads focus on personal characteristics because Republican candidates this year are especially flawed, pointing to Senate nominees such as Rand Paul in Kentucky and Sharron Angle in Nevada.
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