Negative Campaigning Does Work



I disagree with your editorial concerning the negative campaigning that has permeated the mayoral race. You state that negative campaigning does not work.

It has been shown to work repeatedly on the national and state levels. As examples, we have the campaign by Bush supporters against Senator McCain in 2000 in North Carolina. It was insinuated that he could not control his temper and might be just a little crazy. It was very effective since it broke McCain's momentum and essentially swung the rest of the important primaries to Bush.

In the last election, we had the infamous Swift Boat Captains ads that Kerry failed to effectively counter. In both of these campaigns, Bush let his surrogates and supporters attack while he and Rove pulled strings and ostensibly kept their hands clean. State elections for the legislature are rife with examples.

Negativity does work. It tends to turn off voters and hold down turnout for the victim while making sure the perpetrator's base turns out in large numbers. Usually, campaigns try to go negative early and then clean things up toward the end as to not leave a bad taste in voters' mouths.

However, it appears Citizens for Payson's Economic Future will ride their strategy to the bitter end. And it will be bitter. You also stated that wounds turn into scars. In the current election, I'm afraid some of the wounds will never scab over regardless of who wins. If Edwards prevails, I'm sure that some of Brewer's supporters, especially those mentioned above, will do everything they can to sabotage and hamstring his administration. If Brewer wins, I think Edwards' supporters would feel as betrayed as they did over the petition issue. Either way, this town will remain divided.

Still, I would like to propose a behavior modification program. If a candidate has engaged in negative campaigning, don't reward them with your vote. If a candidate's supporters have engaged in similar activity and the candidate failed to condemn that activity, don't reward them with your vote. Don't reward the un-Christian, dishonorable tactics of some groups by voting based on innuendo and emotion. If you can't make an informed, positive choice for mayor, leave it blank and just vote on the council races, all of which seem to have been run honorably to this point.

Ron Weeks, Payson

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