2008 US presidential candidates' TV ads most negative in history, says expert

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Washington, Nov 1 : While Barack Obama and John McCain battle against each other in the run for the White House seat, a University of Missouri professor has claimed that the television ads for 2008 presidential campaign have been one of the most negative in history.

Based on candidates' television spots along with the latest 30-minute ad by Obama, William Benoit, professor of communication in the College of Arts and Science, found that only one other campaign matched this level of negativity.

After analysing television spots from 1952-2004, he found that candidates averaged 40 percent attacks in their ad statements.

And when it comes to the presidential race this year, it was found that the statements in Obama's ads were 68 percent negative as compared to 62 percent for McCain.

"The only campaign in history that matches this level of negativity was in the first ever presidential TV spot campaign when Dwight Eisenhower had negative attacks in 69 percent of his ad statements," said Benoit.

As far as the latest 30-minute ad by Obama is concerned, Benoit found it to be more positive with only 18 percent attacks, and it never mentioned McCain or President Bush by name.

The only time Obama mentioned Bush's name in the 30-minute ad was once when the Democrat alluded to "eight years of failed policies."

The study also indicated that the current presidential campaign ads were not quite different form the past ads in their topics.

In recent television ads from the two presidential candidates, 61 percent of Obama's statements were about policy and 39 percent character.

On the other hand, McCain's spots were 54 percent policy and 46 percent character.

Till date, presidential ads discussed policy in 62 percent of statements and character in 38 percent.

Obama's 30-minute ad discussed 55 percent policy and 45 percent character.

ANI

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