Tone of Ads on the Airwaves in Top Races Keeps Pace with 2008;
Interest Groups Doing Heavy Lifting in Terms of Attacks
(MIDDLETOWN, CT –) The battle for control of Congress and key gubernatorial positions are filling the airwaves with negativity. Just under half of the ads aired so far this year were pure positive ads. Still, claims that 2010 is the most negative election to date may be premature. In an analysis of close to 900,000 airings from January 1 to October 5, 2010, the Wesleyan Media Project finds that the distribution of positive, negative and contrast ads is comparable to 2008 in proportion, if not in volume. The Project distinguishes between ads that focus primarily on attacking a candidate, ads that promote a candidate, and ads that include a promotional and attack message (termed contrast ads). Compared to 2008, attack ad percentages remain constant, with only slight changes in positive and contrast ad percentages.