Do (Nasty) Campaigns Mobilize? (2022)

Do (Nasty) Campaigns Mobilize? (1)High turnout matters. It is one of the three key indicators of good democratic performance of a country as famously identified by Powell,[1] and its absence is often seen as an indicator of generalized political malaise and entrenched cynicism.[2] If the decision to mobilize is, ultimately, an individual one, few would argue that the nature and content of political information citizens are exposed to is utterly irrelevant. Political campaigns are, most of the time, the preferred way for competing candidates to promote themselves in the eyes of the electorate. Yet, beyond their persuasive power on voting choices, many observers also argue that campaigns are also likely to drive participation itself – or hinder it. To what extent are election campaigns likely to be associated with boosted or depressed turnout on election day? To sketch an answer to this question we have to consider two issues: the dimensions of election campaigns that are likely to matter, on the one hand, and the possible existence of both desirable and nefarious effects of political communication, on the other.

What do we talk about when we talk about the dimensions of election campaigns?

Broadly speaking, most research on the effectiveness of election campaigns focuses on two distinct dimensions: First, the “tone” of the campaign, that is, whether it focuses on the promotion of the candidates themselves (positive tone) or whether it attacks the opponents, potentially also using uncivil and harsh language (negative tone); second, the “emotional charge” of the messages carried – that is, the extent to which the campaign intends to trigger an emotional and affective response in the public at large, for instance in terms of increased anxiety or increased enthusiasm. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. Especially in recent years, increasing attention has been granted to additional features of political communication such as, for instance, the use of a more “populist” rhetoric or the complexity of the language used.[3] Yet, especially within the American context, the dimensions of tone and emotionality of the campaign probably reflect the most important dimensions and dynamics—especially in the eye of the voter exposed to them. Take for instance the ad released in early May by the de-facto Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden, against president Trump: “More than 70,000 deaths. Over 1 million coronavirus cases. Over 33 million unemployment claims. Real presidents lead. Reality TV presidents don’t,” the ad claims.[4] The tone (negative) and emotionality (fear) in play in the ad are quite explicit.

Several more “optimistic” studies suggest that negativity can have a positive role to play; for instance, negative messages can convey important information, foster a better knowledge of the issues at stake, indicate that the election is salient and thus worth paying attention to, and overall stimulate curiosity and interest.

It is undeniable that such ads are not anodyne. Do they affect electoral participation at all? Early studies by Ansolabehere and colleagues[5] suggested that negativity could be responsible for as much as a 5% drop in popular mobilization. According to such a “pessimistic” view, negative campaigning depresses turnout and political mobilization because it fosters cynicism, apathy, and a “gloomier” public mood.[6] Not all agree however that negativity is “a pox on the body politic.”[7] Several more “optimistic” studies suggest that negativity can have a positive role to play; for instance, negative messages can convey important information, foster a better knowledge of the issues at stake, indicate that the election is salient and thus worth paying attention to, and overall stimulate curiosity and interest.[8]

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The use of emotions also can have both positive and detrimental effects.

First, the use of fear appeals in political messages – what political psychologist Bethany Albertson and Shana Gadarian call “framed threats”[9] – is, broadly speaking, intended to generate feelings of unease, fear, and anxiety in the public. The key behavioral consequences of anxiety are, on the one hand, an increased attention to (and processing of) incoming information, coupled with, on the other hand, a reduced importance of predispositions and partisan attitudes.[10] In other terms, when experiencing sudden anxiety about a matter, people start paying attention to the issues at stake and do so in a more “open minded” way, in order to go to the bottom of it. If the resulting “open-mindedness” is normatively positive per se, some evidence also suggests that more anxious citizens are more likely to be swayed by political persuasion.[11] Second, enthusiasm appeals are made to beef up the interest and eagerness of partisan supporters. The key behavioral consequences of enthusiasm are an increased mobilization and interest, that is, however, mostly done along partisan lines and by reinforcing previously held predispositions.[12] In other words, enthusiasm makes people more likely to engage, but mostly for the causes they were already supporting in the first place. If greater political engagement is normatively positive, the downside of enthusiasm is thus that it potentially entrenches partisan beliefs and does not necessarily promote skepticism and open-mindedness.

So, do election campaigns matter for political mobilization?

They can, for good and for bad. Even harsh and “negative” campaigns can capture the attention of the public, indicate that bigger issues are at stake, and that political involvement is warranted. Furthermore, both enthusiasm and fear can potentially have desirable effects on political mobilization, if for different reasons – what Ted Brader calls “the destabilizing capacity of fear and stabilizing capacity of enthusiasm.”[13] Yet, even the most “positive” campaigns come with the risk of mobilizing only along partisan lines, thus contributing to the reinforcement of tribal divisions and, potentially, to the entrenchment of affective polarization.

[1] Powell, G. B. (1982). Comparative Democracies: Participation, Stability and Violence. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

[2] Bromley, C., & Curtice, J. (2004). Are non‐voters cynics anyway? Journal of Public Affairs, 4(4), 328-337; but see Saunders, B. (2012). The democratic turnout ‘problem’. Political Studies, 60(2), 306-320.

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[3] Jagers, J., & Walgrave, S. (2007). Populism as political communication style: An empirical study of political parties’ discourse in Belgium. European Journal of Political Research, 46(3), 319-345.

[4] Justin Vallejo, “Trump and Biden campaigns exchange attack ads in escalation of 2020 election”, The Independent, 8 May 2020.

[5] Ansolabehere, S. & Iyengar, S. (1995) Going Negative: How Attack Ads Shrink and Polarize the Electorate, New York: Free Press; Ansolabehere, S., Iyengar, S., Simon, A., & Valentino, N. (1994). Does attack advertising demobilize the electorate? American political science review, 88(4), 829-838.

[6] Thorson, E., Ognianova, E., Coyle, J., & Denton, F. (2000). Negative political ads and negative citizen orientations toward politics. Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, 22(1), 13-40; Yoon, K., Pinkleton, B. E. and Ko, W. (2005). Effects of negative political advertising on voting intention: An exploration of the roles of involvement and source credibility in the development of voter cynicism. Journal of Marketing Communications, 11(2), 95-112.

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[7] Richardson, G. W. (2008). Pulp Politics. How Political Advertising Tells the Stories of American Politics. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield (p. 61).

[8] Brians, C. L., & Wattenberg, M. P. (1996). Campaign issue knowledge and salience: Comparing reception from TV commercials, TV news and newspapers. American Journal of Political Science, 40(1), 172-193; Finkel, S. E., & Geer, J. G. (1998). A spot check: Casting doubt on the demobilizing effect of attack advertising. American Journal of Political Science, 42(2), 573-595; Geer, J. G. (2006). In Defense of Negativity: Attack Ads in Presidential Campaigns, Chicago: University of Chicago Press; Martin, P. S. (2004). Inside the black box of negative campaign effects: Three reasons why negative campaigns mobilize. Political Psychology, 25(4): 545-562.

[9] Albertson, B., & Gadarian, S. K. (2015). Anxious politics: Democratic citizenship in a threatening world. New York: Cambridge University Press.

[10] Marcus, G. E., Neuman, R. & MacKuen, M. B. (2000). Affective intelligence and political judgment. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

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[11] Nai, A., Schemeil, Y. & Marie, J.-L. (2017). Anxiety, sophistication, and resistance to persuasion: Evidence from a quasi-experimental survey on global climate change. Political Psychology, 38(1), 137-156.

[12] Marcus, G. E., & MacKuen, M. B. (1993). Anxiety, enthusiasm, and the vote: The emotional underpinnings of learning and involvement during presidential campaigns. American Political Science Review, 87(3), 672-685.

[13] Brader, T. (2006). Campaigning for hearts and minds: How emotional appeals in political ads work. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (p. 119).

Alessandro Nai is a guest contributor for the RAISE the Vote Campaign. The views expressed in the posts and articles featured in the RAISE the Vote campaign are those of the authors and contributors alone and do not represent the views of APSA.

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Alessandro Nai is Assistant Professor of Political Communication and Journalism at the Department of Communication Science, University of Amsterdam. His research broadly focuses on political communication, voting behaviour, political psychology, and campaigning effects, and he is currently directing a research project that maps the use of negative campaigning in elections across the world. His recent work has been published in journals such as Political Psychology, European Journal of Political Research, West European Politics, International Journal of Press/Politics, Personality and Individual Differences, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Electoral Studies, and more. He recently co-edited the volumes New Perspectives on Negative Campaigning: Why Attack Politics Matters (ECPR Press, 2015, with Annemarie S. Walter) and Election Watchdogs (Oxford University Press, 2017, with Pippa Norris). He is currently Associated Editor of the Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

The contributor for this post was recommended by the Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior Section.Joining an APSA Organized Section, like this one, can provide an additional way to network and get the word out about your research, teaching, and other professional activities. Considerjoining the Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior section today!

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What are negative campaign tactics? ›

The most standard form of negative campaigning is campaign advertising that serves as an attack on an opponent's personality, record, or opinion. There are two main types of ads used in negative campaigning: attack and contrast. Attack ads focus exclusively on the negative aspects of the opponent.

What are the different methods of campaigning? ›

  • Campaign communication.
  • Campaign advertising.
  • Media management.
  • Demonstrations.
  • Modern technology and the internet.
  • Husting.
  • Other techniques.

Which type of money is spent by political parties for activities such as get out the vote drives? ›

Campaign contributions that are referred to as soft money are those raised by national and state parties that are not regulated by the federal campaign finance law because they are not contributed directly to a candidate but rather to a party committee for its use in generic “party building” activities like “get-out- ...

Which of the following is a primary limitation of digital political participation? ›

Which of the following is a primary limitation on digital participation? There are clear economic and racial inequalities in access to digital information.

What is aggressive campaign? ›

Aggressive marketing is an offensive strategy which uses provocative tactics to generate a response from your audience.

What are negative political ads called? ›

Attack ads often form part of negative campaigning or smear campaigns, and in large or well-financed campaigns, may be disseminated via mass media. An attack ad will generally unfairly criticize an opponent's political platform, usually by pointing out its faults.

What are tactics in a campaign? ›

Tactics. Tactics are the social action activities that you use to achieve your goals and objectives but the strategy is the sequencing of these in a logical and strategic way. List and detail the tactics required to achieve each campaign objective.

What are the five elements of a campaign? ›

The five elements of campaigning are designed as a planning ready reckoner.
  • What is our environment?
  • What problem must we solve?
  • How do we solve the problem?
  • How do our proposed solutions work?
  • Recommend a decision.
  • Implement a solution.
13 Nov 2021

What are the three key elements of a campaign strategy? ›

However, your organization can compile its existing resources into a winning digital campaign strategy by focusing on three key campaign elements — campaign objectives, target audience, and key messaging.

What are dark money groups? ›

In the politics of the United States, dark money refers to political spending by nonprofit organizations—for example, 501(c)(4) (social welfare) 501(c)(5) (unions) and 501(c)(6) (trade association) groups—that are not required to disclose their donors.

What are the four main sources of campaign money? ›

Sources of campaign funding
  • Federal contribution limits. Federal law does not allow corporations and labor unions to donate money directly to candidates ("hard money") or national party committees. ...
  • Bundling. ...
  • Advocacy groups/interest groups. ...
  • "Hard" and "soft" money.

Can politicians use their own money to campaign? ›

An officeholder may use personal funds and be reimbursed for “officeholder” expenses. (See Chapter 8 for specific reporting rules and deadlines for reimbursements.)

What are some barriers to political participation? ›

Barriers to political participation

Education – without information and knowledge, meaningful participation in politics can be difficult. Social isolation – there is a limited network to support and encourage political participation. Personal factors – people may have limited confidence or motivation to participate.

What is the most effective way to boost voter mobilization quizlet? ›

Terms in this set (18) What is the most effective way to boost voter mobilization? More stringent voter ID laws reduce overall turnout.

Which of the following are the three most major factors that influence voters choice? ›

The three cleavage-based voting factors focused on in research are class, gender and religion. Firstly, religion is often a factor which influences one's party choice.

What are the advantages of aggressive marketing? ›

Advantage: It's a way to boost cost per click, since effectively the user clicks on the striking links and it is a technique proven by Copywriting professionals. That is to say, the more striking the headline, more likely that they will read the article and that it will go viral.

What are aggressive business tactics? ›

Think Externally to Create a More Aggressive Business Strategy
  • Meet customer needs.
  • Focus on high growth.
  • Innovate your product and service offerings.
  • Gather external sources of information.
  • Track and monitor strategic progress.

What is a disruptive campaign? ›

Disruptive marketing means turning all the marketing rules upside down, shaking things up, and changing the perception of your company and the industry as a whole. In other words - disruptive marketing is all about: Breaking the status quo. Experimenting with new techniques.

What are negative advertising effects? ›

Over time, negative ads can lead to biases about brands by everyday people. Consumers will choose which products to steer away from, and typically this consumer behavior is due to the association with a negative brand image campaign.

What is a blacklist advertising? ›

Blacklisting means you prevent certain traffic sources or ad placements from showing your ads. If there is a certain website that has yielded negative ROI for you, or if it doesn't match the niche which you would like your native ad (or other ad form) to be seen in, then you can blacklist that site.

Which ads are considered as unethical ads? ›

Unethical Advertising Examples
  • Use of misleading images. ...
  • Sharing false information. ...
  • Selling products using deceptive pricing. ...
  • Use of bait and switch. ...
  • Making exaggerated claims. ...
  • Portraying women as sex objects/symbols. ...
  • Discriminating against rival products. ...
  • Failing to reveal the side effects of a product.
3 Aug 2022

What are 5 marketing tactics? ›

The 5 areas you need to make decisions about are: PRODUCT, PRICE, PROMOTION, PLACE AND PEOPLE. Although the 5 Ps are somewhat controllable, they are always subject to your internal and external marketing environments. Read on to find out more about each of the Ps.

What comes first strategy or tactics? ›

Order of play: Strategy will always come first. 'Changeability': Strategies take time, research and careful planning to create because of their long-term vision. This means that they can be changed, but not lightly or easily. Tactics, on the other hand, can easily be adjusted to correct the course of action.

What does a successful campaign look like? ›

A successful ad campaign can help you launch a new product, offer services to clients or give customers a reason to try a product that you make. No matter what you sell or offer, you need to know how to make your campaign a hit. The components of a successful marketing campaign include both a hook and a solid offer.

What are the successful elements of a campaign? ›

Don't overlook these essential parts of the process as you design your next campaign.
  • Upfront goals. ...
  • Established KPIs. ...
  • A well-defined target buyer. ...
  • Detailed customer personas. ...
  • An understanding of your customers' needs. ...
  • Awareness of the sales funnel stage. ...
  • A long-term vision. ...
  • Messaging focused on the end-user.
2 Jun 2021

What are the three purposes of campaign? ›

The Campaign Objectives are broken down into 3 main marketing objectives, Awareness, Consideration and Conversion, the objective that you choose should fall within the category that is closest to your current advertising goals. Awareness: generating interest in your product or service.

What are the characteristics of an ideal campaign? ›

11 Traits of a Successful Marketing Campaign
  • Set a Goal. The best marketing campaigns have a well-defined goal in mind. ...
  • Speak to One Person. ...
  • Give a Gift. ...
  • Choose the Right Medium. ...
  • Show the Value. ...
  • Express Your Personality. ...
  • Educate Customers. ...
  • Grab Attention With Design.
16 May 2019

What is the Arabella group? ›

Arabella Advisors is a Washington, D.C.-based for-profit consulting company that advises left-leaning donors and nonprofits about where to give money and serves as the hub of a politically liberal "dark money" network. It was founded by former Clinton administration appointee Eric Kessler.

What is shadow election? ›

Shadow campaigns run on dark money, or money that is spent by an undisclosed donor that is intended to influence a given constituencies voting patterns. Dark money is often spent by non-profit organizations and super-PACs.

What are PACs? ›

In the United States, a political action committee (PAC) is a 527 organization that pools campaign contributions from members and donates those funds to campaigns for or against candidates, ballot initiatives, or legislation.

Where do politicians get money to run campaigns? ›

Under the presidential public funding program, eligible presidential candidates receive federal government funds to pay for the qualified expenses of their political campaigns in both the primary and general elections.

What resources do you need for a campaign? ›

They include:
  • Websites or web articles.
  • Newsletters (your own or articles for other organizations) - paper or email.
  • Newspaper or magazine articles or letters (No cost)
  • Campaign videos or DVDs.
  • Music/music videos.
  • Reports -fully researched, with all the background facts about your campaign.
  • Leaflets, brochures or factsheets.

What is the largest source of money for most candidates campaigns? ›

Contributions are the most common source of campaign support. A contribution is anything of value given, loaned or advanced to influence a federal election.

What happens to politicians who lost their seats? ›

When a member of the House of Representatives loses their seat in a federal election they are no longer a member from the date of the election. State senators who lose their seat in a regular election continue in their role until the next 30 June. Newly elected senators start their role on 1 July.

Do political campaigns pay taxes? ›

A political organization is subject to tax on its political organization taxable income. Generally, this tax is calculated by multiplying the political organization taxable income by the highest rate of tax specified in §11(b).

Can campaign funds be used for living expenses? ›

Using campaign funds for personal use is prohibited. Commission regulations provide a test, called the "irrespective test," to differentiate legitimate campaign and officeholder expenses from personal expenses.

What are two barriers to community participation? ›

5 barriers to community engagement: and how to overcome them!
  • Community engagement barrier 1: a lack of trust.
  • Community engagement barrier 2: Inaccessible tech.
  • Community engagement barrier 3: Lack of awareness.
  • Community engagement barrier 4: What does citizen participation mean?
16 Jun 2022

What are the three types of political risk? ›

Common types of political risks. Expropriation/government interference. Transfer & Conversion. Political violence.

What are the factors that contribute to political risk? ›

Risk factors mentioned include political instability, legal and regulatory constraints, local product safety and environmental laws, tax regulations, local labor laws, trade policies, and currency regulations.

What is voter mobilization quizlet? ›

voter mobilization. a party's efforts to inform potential voters about issues and candidates and to persuade them to vote.

What is the most important factor that drives voter turnout? ›

The most important socioeconomic factor affecting voter turnout is education. The more educated a person is, the more likely they are to vote, even controlling for other factors that are closely associated with education level, such as income and class.

What are three factors that have the most influence on voter turn out quizlet? ›

What are the most important demographic variables in determining who votes? Education, income, and age; the more education and income a person has and the older they are the more likely they are to vote.

What causes voter apathy? ›

There are two primary causes for voter apathy: alienation and voter fatigue. Alienation is defined as, “this refers to the sense that voters feel like the political system does not work for them and any attempt to influence it will be a fruitless exercise.” This could be due to many factors.

Which age group is least likely to vote in an election? ›

Voter turnout also increased as age, educational attainment and income increased. Voter turnout was highest among those ages 65 to 74 at 76.0%, while the percentage was lowest among those ages 18 to 24 at 51.4%.

What is 1 to 1 voting in districts mean? ›

Sanders decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that equality of voting—one person, one vote—means that "the weight and worth of the citizens' votes as nearly as is practicable must be the same", and ruled that states must also draw federal congressional districts containing roughly equal represented populations.

What are tactics in a campaign? ›

Tactics. Tactics are the social action activities that you use to achieve your goals and objectives but the strategy is the sequencing of these in a logical and strategic way. List and detail the tactics required to achieve each campaign objective.

What does negative election mean? ›

Negative vote weight (also known as inverse success value) refers to an effect that occurs in certain elections where votes can have the opposite effect of what the voter intended. A vote for a party might result in the loss of seats in parliament, or the party might gain extra seats by not receiving votes.

What are political tactics? ›

The political tactics are subset of political behavior that is used by a social actor for influencing other social actors to earn self-interests. Political tactics used in organizations differ from influence tactics but they have close similarities.

What are smear tactics? ›

A smear campaign, also referred to as a smear tactic or simply a smear, is an effort to damage or call into question someone's reputation, by propounding negative propaganda. It makes use of discrediting tactics. It can be applied to individuals or groups.

What are the three key elements of a campaign strategy? ›

However, your organization can compile its existing resources into a winning digital campaign strategy by focusing on three key campaign elements — campaign objectives, target audience, and key messaging.

What are the three basic principles of campaign planning? ›

Definition – Concentration – Domination – Repetition.

What are 5 marketing tactics? ›

The 5 areas you need to make decisions about are: PRODUCT, PRICE, PROMOTION, PLACE AND PEOPLE. Although the 5 Ps are somewhat controllable, they are always subject to your internal and external marketing environments. Read on to find out more about each of the Ps.

What is the main disadvantage of direct election? ›

They can cause violence, and law and order issues if things go out of control. There have been many instances where votes of people have been bought in exchange for money or other gifts. These elections can also exploit caste, religion, and linguistic identity of people.

What is another word for negative vote? ›

Crossword answers for NEGATIVE VOTE
1 more row

What are wasted votes in an election? ›

In electoral systems, a wasted vote is any vote which is not for an elected candidate or, more broadly, a vote that does not help to elect a candidate. The narrower meaning includes lost votes, being only those votes which are for a losing candidate or party.

What are the 9 power tactics? ›

These tactics are ways in which individuals translate power bases into specific actions. The 9 influence tactics are legitimacy, rational persuasion, inspirational appeals, consultation, exchange, personal appeals, ingratiation, pressure and coalitions.

What are the 3 types of influence tactics? ›

Among these tactics, inspirational appeal, consultation and rational appeal* were found to be the most effective influence methods (with inspirational appeal being the most effective among all three); coalition and pressure were found to be the least effective influence methods (these tactics tend to be not only ...

Which of the following power tactics would be considered a hard tactic? ›

36) Which of the following power tactics would be considered a hard tactic? Explanation: D) Hard tactics are those that emphasize formal power such as exchange, coalitions, and pressure.

How do narcissists react to a smear campaign? ›

As much as you are tempted to contact them to beg them to stop, fight back, or argue with them, you must not engage. They are looking for a reaction and will inevitably use anything and everything you say, write, or post against you in their attempt to "prove" whatever they have claimed about you. Stay silent.

How do you beat a narcissist smear campaign? ›

How to Deal with Narcissistic Attacks
  1. Remember why you left the relationship in the first place. You were devalued and discarded. ...
  2. Resist the urge to defend yourself. While this may be easier said than done, it is an important concept. ...
  3. Make a preemptive strike. ...
  4. Spend your time well.
20 Sept 2017

Why do narcissists start smear campaign? ›

The narcissist began the smear campaign to rile your emotions up and get you to act out an emotional outburst — which would vindicate their view. Even if such an outburst is justified — as it almost always is when in response to the tactics of emotional manipulators — other people won't see it that way.


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