A screen shot from an anti-Ossoff attack ad.
Photo: Greg Bluestein/Political Insider blog
Photo: Greg Bluestein/Political Insider blog

Georgia 2018: Why negative political campaigns are more ‘effective’ 

Like it or not, it’s news in modern-day campaigning when a candidate in a tight race avoids personal attacks. Which is why Democrat Stacey Abrams’ approach to the race against Republican Brian Kemp raised so many eyebrows.

While Kemp is pummeling her with attacks labeling her a “radical” puppet of California interests, Abrams is so far avoiding any direct response. It’s such an unconventional move, she’s attracted statewide and national attention for that strategy. 

An Emory University study released in June helps explain why. While viewers may rightly claim to be annoyed by the ads, the research showed that negative advertising from a candidate is more effective than positive spots in mobilizing voters. 

It concluded that every 1 percent increase in negative advertising by the candidate produces a “significant” lift in the candidate’s share of the vote. It also found that negative ads from the candidates are approximately twice as effective as attack ads from political action committees. 

Which is to say, don’t expect the attack ads to let up this fall. 

Check out the study here. 

Read more recent AJC coverage of the Georgia governor’s race:

Abrams opts, for now, to turn other cheek in Georgia governor’s race 

 Why tariffs and a trade war could loom large in Georgia elections  

 Abrams, Kemp allies trade ethics complaints about app, funding  

Why Metro Atlanta needs to more about Brian Kemp - fast

 Next Georgia gov will face new push for $3B+ in casino projects  

 The Jolt: Lay off Stacey Abrams’ finances, warns GOP lawmaker  

 Obama versus Trump in Georgia? Ex-president lines up behind Abrams  

 Georgia governor’s race could look a lot like 2020 presidential contest  

 Amazon HQ2 decision looms as Georgia governor’s race set  

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.