Alas, negative television ads do work after all |

Alas, negative television ads do work after all

Negative campaigning doesn’t work. And no one eats at McDonald’s or shops at Wal-Mart.

It isn’t that negative campaigning works so much as how well it works.

Sharron Angle spent $496,294 in her effort to defeat Dean Heller in the Republican primary for U.S. Congress. Heller spent $643,751, and Dawn Gibbons spent $630,220 to stave off that challenge.

Where did all that money go? Well, it wasn’t all spent on signs and newspaper advertising.

Much of it went to pay for the very expensive and very negative television advertising that clogged much of the airwaves.

How well did it work?

In Douglas County’s early and absentee voting results, Dean Heller held a comfortable 11 percent margin over Angle.

But on Tuesday, after ratcheting up the negative campaigning, Angle managed to close the gap between her and Heller to a dead heat, in fact winning the county by seven whole votes.

How can we tell what did the damage?

Simple – look at the county-by-county returns.

Both Angle and Heller made strong showings in their home counties. Western Nevada, where negative campaigning was flooding the airwaves, and in Douglas and Lyon, Angle defeated Heller.

But in real rural Nevada, election results were in Heller’s favor.

In those places furthest from regular broadcasts – Nye, Humboldt, Esmeralda and Pershing counties – other factors came into play. Ironically, Elko County, which gets most of its television from Reno, ended up voting for Angle by a slim margin.

Angle’s run at Heller was based on substantial negative advertising. That plan broke down in the vastness of central Nevada, where her advantage evaporated into the desert.

The race for U.S. Congress was won out there in central Nevada, and it would be a good idea for future candidates to take that lesson to heart.

– From the Record Courier