Polls of Ohio residents found an overwhelming disgust this election season over negative campaigning.

Travis Ridout
Travis Ridout

Negativity in moderation in fact can be useful, said Travis Ridout, WSU professor of political science and co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which has tracked advertising in federal elections since 2010. “It helps voters draw a contrast between candidates. [But] for other people,” he said, “it can be demobilizing.”

Ridout, whose courses at WSU cover the use of media in political campaigns, said the crush of attack ads from outside groups forces candidates to fire back or risk losing ground. “You’re kind of in a vicious cycle of attack, attack, attack, which makes it even more negative,” he said.

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