Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Sunday, November 7, 2010
NDP's Month Long Negative Campaign
As I mentioned a while back, I expect there to be an increasing amount of ads from the NDP. It will be interesting to see the spike in them in the next months.
For the next month though we are going to see a negative ad attacking Hugh McFadyen and the Progressive Conservatives. Party brass are going to great pains to call the ads contrast ads.
I think the old adage of if it walks like a duck applies. In fact, most definitions of negative ad campaigns says contrast ads are indeed negative ads.
The ads start Monday and attack McFadyen with the typical fear campaign about the failures on the leader on a raft of policies.
Negative ads often work. They work so well that parties run them with greater frequency than positive ads about themselves.
Who are the ads aimed at? They are aimed at independent voter in an attempt to discourage them from voting one way or the other. The net effect though according to studies is to keep independents at home feeling alienated from the process and allow the base of support of each party to win or lose the election.
There can be consequences to negative ad campaigns. Two of the world's best examples happened within Canadian federal politics in 1993 with a Progressive Conservative ad critical of how Jean Chretien looked and a 2006 ad that the Liberals thought of running about military in the streets if the Conservatives were elected.
The last provincial election had an ad campaign by the provincial PCs that went negative on crime. It fell flat. The over the top fear aspect of it was dismissed despite whatever views people had on the issue to begin with. That, and a poorly run campaign and McFadyen's Tories lost even more than they started with.
The most recent polls have the provincial NDP behind the Tories. We have seen an increasing amount of belligerence from the NDP and from their supporters over the last months. I expect to see it reach a boiling point and stay there the longer the campaign runs.
It remains to be seen whether there will be a backlash as we have seen in other elections from time to time. I expect the NDP government will be flooding the airwaves with more ads touting Manitoba and the plan the government is taking. It will be interesting to see the comparison between this year and last. It is worth a freedom of information request if the government isn't interested in disclosing it.
The PCs won't be exempt from going negative but they have been burned once already in Manitoba by going that way. They will have to be more cautious. Their best bet it to continue to propose change and emphasize the things that seem to be their best asset.
The NDP could have campaigned on change when Greg Selinger was elected by they have opted for a continuation of what we have seen before. This might not be enough for a province that routinely kicks out a party after ten years in office.