Going Dirty : The Art of Negative Campaigning

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9780742545007: Going Dirty : The Art of Negative Campaigning

Going Dirty is a history of negative campaigning in American politics and an examination of how candidates and political consultants have employed this often-controversial technique. The book includes case studies on notable races throughout the television era in which new negative campaign strategies were introduced, or existing tactics were refined and amplified upon. Strategies have included labeling opponents from non-traditional political backgrounds as dumb or lightweight, an approach that got upended when a veteran actor and rookie candidate named Ronald Reagan won the California governorship in 1966, setting him on a path to the White House. The negative tone of campaigns has also been ratcheted up dramatically since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: Campaign commercials now routinely run pictures of international villains and suggest, sometimes overtly, at other times more subtly, that political opponents are less than resolute in prosecuting the war on terror. The book also outlines a series of races in which negative campaigning has backfired, because the charges were not credible or the candidate on the attack did not understand the political sentiments of the local electorate they were trying to persuade. The effect of newer technologies on negative campaigning is also examined, including blogs and Web video, in addition to tried and true methods like direct mail.

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About the Author:

David Mark is a senior editor for The Politico.

Review:

'Why are campaigns so negative?' This is a question I get asked regularly by audiences, and the obvious answer―because they work―is not really adequate. Now, with a series of case studies and some historical grounding, David Mark has provided texture and bite to the longstanding issue of the tough, negative and sometimes very dirty nature of political campaigning. The next time I get asked the question, I will answer, 'Read David Mark's Going Dirty.' (Norman Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute)

A must-read for anyone interested in the negative ads that have come to dominate our campaigns. (Robert M. Stern, Center for Government Studies)

For the serious student of political campaigns, this book includes nearly everything you wanted to know about negative campaigning and has some very interesting case studies as tactics changed during the the television and Internet era. A chapter titled 'What Good Old Days' reminds us that negative campaigning is an American tradition. Recommended. (Taegan Goddard's Political Wire)

The next time opposing candidates accuse each other of negative campaigning―which should be any minute now―you'll want Going Dirty within easy reach. David Mark's lively and meticulous history will help you distinguish what's hard and fair from what's over the line. (Dr. Michael Cornfield, scholar, consultant, author of Politics Moves Online: Campaigning and the Internet)

Negative campaigning―the public hates it, the press loves it, the candidates need it. And David Mark has documented it from A (attack) to Z (zonk) in this creative compendium of dirty politics, past, present, and future. (Dr. Larry J. Sabato, University of Virginia Center for Politics)

Going Dirty explores [the] long history of negative campaigning, recounting both familiar episodes (Willie Horton, anyone?) and those readers may have forgotten. The recurring theme is that well-timed, adroitly executed attacks are often effective; sloppy tactics by campaigns that misunderstand the electorate tend to elicit backlashes. ... [David] Mark doesn't argue that people who are tired of watching negative ads can read his book instead. But if he did, it wouldn't be such a bad idea. (W. James Antle III National Review)

...essential history of negative campaigning in American politics, and how candidates use the technique, with varying degrees of success. (Ken Rudin Political Junkie, National Public Radio)

Going Dirty is a nonjudgemental, thorough, insider's history of an undeniably strong aspect of the American political institution, and highly recommended. (Midwest Book Review)

Recommended. (CHOICE)

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