There is a legitimate debate over negative campaigning and whether it either mobilizes voter participation or suppresses it. Previous studies suggest that the relevant political information brought by negative campaigns play a significant role in mobilizing the electorate (Finkel and Geer, 1998). On the other hand, some studies explain that negative campaigns challenge the legitimacy of the electoral process and consequently drain the electorate (Krupnikov, 2011).
As such, my research question asks of the effect of negative campaigning on voter participation - are people turned off and to what extent? What kind of impact does negative campaigning have on voters and their sense of civic duty? My study aims to understand how perception and attitude of campaign negativity affects the behavioral attitude of the electorate.
The data used for the study is gathered from the CBS News/New York Times National Poll, October 3, 2012. The independent variable in the study is the public’s perception on the negativity of the 2012 presidential campaign. The dependent variables that will be correlated with the independent variable are, amongst others, public opinion on how likely voters are to participate, voting enthusiasm, and their ideological stance on certain issues.
Appropriately, my analysis will empirically test the notion that negative campaigns have significant behavioral consequences on the electorate. I expect that the respondents’ are more likely to vote and when campaigns are more negative. Additionally, I expect that the more negative the campaign the higher the respondents voting enthusiasm will be.
Finkel, Steven E., and Geer, John G.. 1998. “A Spot Check: Casting Doubt on the Demobilizing Effect of Attack Advertising.” American Journal of Political Science, 1998. 573. JSTOR Journals, EBSCOhost (accessed November 16, 2014). Krupnikov, Yanna. 2011. “When Does Negativy Demobilize? Tracing the Conditional Effect of Negative Campaigning on Voter Turnout.” American Journal Of Political Science no. 4: 797 Academic OneFile EBSCOhost (accesed November 17, 2014).
Colindres, Estefan, "Negative Campaigns and Their Influence on Voter Attitudes" (2015). Student Research Day Abstracts and Posters. 132.