What is Political Mudslinging?

Sherry Holetzky

If you don’t understand what political mudslinging is about, all you have to do is compare television ads for various candidates during an election cycle, at least in the United States. In modern elections, candidates seem to spend more time telling voters how bad the other guy is, and instead of expounding on their own principles and platforms, they only try to convince voters that they aren’t quite as bad as the opponent. Many candidates attack not only each other’s issues, but also attack each other on a very personal level.

Some political candidates may run negative campaign ads against their opponents in order to win elections.
Some political candidates may run negative campaign ads against their opponents in order to win elections.

Worse yet, at times political mudslinging may also include members of a candidate’s family. Outright accusations are rarely necessary to achieve the goal of creating scandal. One may simply use innuendo or hyperbole as forms of political mudslinging. In other words, one does not have to prove that the other candidate is corrupt or dishonest; he or she only needs to plant that seed.

Spreading gossip about a political rival is known as mudslinging.
Spreading gossip about a political rival is known as mudslinging.

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Enough political mudslinging can lead to a candidate dropping out of the race, especially if his or her family is being viciously attacked. Political mudslinging can become so ugly that is can cause a potential nominee to lose favor with his or her political party. The prospective candidate may then have no choice but to bow out, as the party distances itself from the candidate.

Rumors about an affair are a common mudslinging tactic.
Rumors about an affair are a common mudslinging tactic.

Unfortunately, political mudslinging appears to be the rule rather than the exception in today’s election climate. Attack ads are commonplace, and in fact, their prevalence may cause them to backfire as voters grow weary of these tactics. If one candidate attacks another, it may make the attacker look far worse than the opponent. Also, the fact that political mudslinging has become so common has made it lose some of its impact. Negative ads don’t tend to have as much shock value as they once did.

Many voters prefer candidates that run on important issues instead of utilizing political mudslinging to attack their rivals. For the most part, voters would rather know what their preferred candidate intends to do regarding issues they are concerned about instead of being subjected to rumors and ugly gossip about an opponent. Political mudslinging may have been successful in the past in some cases, but it’s hardly an effective way to sway today’s savvy voters, many of whom are quite concerned with the direction this country is heading in. In today’s political climate, candidates would do well to run on their own record rather than attempting to run on their opponent’s misdeeds, or allegations thereof.

Quite a few voters believe that the negative campaign ad has lost much of its effectiveness.
Quite a few voters believe that the negative campaign ad has lost much of its effectiveness.

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Discussion Comments

anon123063

In response to anon19225, take a quick look at Jackson versus Adams. One called another family member a prostitute. Someone is trying to do something about it, not sure they will get anywhere though.

renegade1

I hate political Mudslinging

anon19225

I think Political Mudslinging is stupid. I mean I do not think that our forefathers had mudslinging in mind when they instituted Presidential Elections. I mean whatever happened to OK I am going to tackle the issues and tell what my plans are to change america or make american life better rather than dragging the other candidate through the mud to make myself look better. People wonder why I don't vote. I would love to but I see nothing but mudslinging and it makes me sit back and question the Pres. Elec's integrity.

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