McCain goes completely negative

A study of the presidential campaigns' spending on TV advertising shows that all of the McCain camp's money is going to negative or contrast ads.

Published October 8, 2008 10:40PM (EDT)

We knew the McCain campaign had taken a turn toward the negative. Still, the degree of that turn is somewhat surprising.

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reports that a study of the presidential campaigns' recent advertising buys found that "all of McCain's advertising is of the contrast or negative variety." (In a contrast ad, the opponent is portrayed in a negative light and then the candidate responsible for the spot is depicted positively.)

On the other hand, just about a third of Barack Obama's ads are negative. This is a change from last month, when Obama was outpacing his Republican rival in negative advertising -- in the first week after the conventions, 77 percent of Obama's ads were negative, compared with 56 percent of the ads aired by McCain and the Republican National Committee.

As my friend Steve Benen notes, the Democratic National Committee is using this opportunity to make some of McCain's own words come back and bite him. In 2000, McCain said, "I just have to rely on the good judgment of the voters not to buy into these negative attack ads. Sooner or later, people are going to figure out if all you run is negative attack ads you don't have much of a vision for the future or you're not ready to articulate it."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama John Mccain R-ariz.