IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Negative Campaign Advertising: Demobilizer or Mobilizer


  • Wattenberg, Martin P.
  • Brians, Craig Leonard


With political campaigns becoming increasingly adversarial, scholars have recently given some much-needed attention to the impact of negative advertising on turnout.In a widely recognized Review article and subsequent book, Ansolabehere and his colleagues (1994, 1995) contend that attack advertising drives potential voters away from the polls. We dispute the generalizability of these claims outside of the experimental setting. Using NES survey data as well aggregate sources, we subject this previous research to rigorous real-world testing. The survey data directly contradict Ansolabehere et al.'s findings, yielding evidence of a turnout advantage for those recollecting negative presidential campaign advertising. In attempting to replicate Ansolabehere et al’s earlier aggregate results we uncover quite significant discrepancies and inconsistencies in their dataset. This analysis leads to the conclusion that their aggregate study is hopelessly flawed. We must conclude that attack advertising’s demobilization dangers are greatly exaggerated by Ansolabehere et al., while they completely miss negative political advertising’s turnout benefits -- at least in voters’ own context.

Suggested Citation

  • Wattenberg, Martin P. & Brians, Craig Leonard, 1996. "Negative Campaign Advertising: Demobilizer or Mobilizer," Institute for Social Science Research, Working Paper Series qt7gf3q1w1, Institute for Social Science Research, UCLA.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:issres:qt7gf3q1w1

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:;origin=repeccitec
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:88:y:1994:i:04:p:829-838_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:issres:qt7gf3q1w1. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.