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Effectiveness of Negative Campaigning in U.S. Senate Elections

Richard R. Lau and Gerald M. Pomper
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 46, No. 1 (Jan., 2002), pp. 47-66
DOI: 10.2307/3088414
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3088414
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Effectiveness of Negative Campaigning in U.S. Senate Elections
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Abstract

The character of elections critically affects the dialogue of democracy. This article examines that dialogue in 143 U.S. Senate elections, 1988-1998, in which an incumbent sought reelection. We go beyond previous research on the impact of campaign spending to focus on the character of the contest itself, particularly the impact of negative campaigning. Campaign strategies are endogenous to the campaign itself, requiring plausible instruments and two-stage statistical techniques to produce reliable estimates. Our analyses combine information on the relative "tone" of U.S. Senate campaigns with an original aggregate data set and ANES survey data. We ask a simple question: how effective is negative campaigning in helping to get candidates elected? Our results provide no straightforward answer. Generally speaking, but dependent on the opponent's strategy, negative campaigning is relatively effective for challengers, while positive campaigning is more effective for incumbents. Overall, our results do provide clear evidence that the campaign "matters."

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