Evaluating the Content of Negative and Positive Issue Appeals

John G. Geer

in In Defense of Negativity

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780226284989
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226285009 | DOI:
Evaluating the Content of Negative and Positive Issue Appeals

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This chapter evaluates the merits of issue-based attacks, raising the question of whether these attacks are about legitimate issues. Are they about important and real problems? The core argument hypothesizes that the answer should be yes; yet conventional wisdom suggests that policy attacks tend to focus on frivolous issues. The chapter develops a set of standards to answer these questions. The findings again suggest that negativity better deals with issues of importance to the public than positive appeals. The chapter shows theoretically why issue attacks will be more likely to spell out the policy differences between candidates, presenting evidence consistent with this insight.

Keywords: positive appeals; negative appeals; self-promotional appeals; presidential campaigns

Chapter.  9571 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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