August 27th, 2010
10:15 AM ET
13 years ago

Majority of campaign commercials are attack ads

Washington (CNN) - While the nation's economy is struggling, business is booming in at least one sector – campaign commercial spending. And a new analysis indicates that the majority of those commercials are attack ads.

As of this week, candidates running for state and federal offices have spent $395 million on commercials for the midterm elections, according to a new analysis from the Campaign Media Analysis Group. That compares to $286 million shelled out at this point during the 2006 midterms.

"2010 is on track to be a record year for ad spending, there is mix of political factors such as turnover in many of the Governors offices across the nation and elections mechanics with competitive primaries and the Supreme Court Citizens United ruling which is supercharging the rise in ad spending," says Evan Tracey, CMAG President and CNN's consultant on political TV ad spending.

According to the analysis, more than half of all commercials have been attack ads, and almost 70 percent of all commercials for the Senate have been negative. California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Nevada are the top 5 states for negative ads this year.

"Voters are angry at Washington and incumbents; this is fueling an environment where office holders and office seekers are tapping into this anger with ads painting opponents as part of the problems in government," adds Tracey.

And just wait; campaigns traditionally kick it into high gear after Labor Day.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: 2010
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Tall Ed

    It's because they Work.

    People say that they want to talk about the issues, but they actually respond more to negative messages.

    August 27, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  2. Lucullus

    Big surprise there! Every since Watergate the Republicans have been running ads there were increasingly nastier and nastier. Very rarely do they have anything to do with the issues at hand, and for good reason. If the Republicans ran campaign ads that dealt with the issues facing the nation they'd lose every time. Their only recourse is to demonize their opponents. That being the case the Democrats are forced to respond in kind or be buried under a Republican wave or sewage. The difference is that the Republicans give the Democrats ammunition that can be factually checked. If the dummies only know how to use it we would be winning all the time.

    August 27, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  3. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    The only ones that seem to be aware that were in a recession is the American people the democrats are wasting time and money trying to dig themselves out of the hole they made by making our economy worst .

    August 27, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  4. democrat disgusted with democratic commercials

    As a democrat I can tell you that I am disgusted with negative democratic commericials. I thought we passed all of these great things this year and not one of them is ever mentioned. why? I am starting to figure out that these things are not so great, and actually do all of us great harm. I feel as though I have been duped........millions and millions are jobless, foreclosed upon, hungry, angry. I will not be voting for a democrat this fall, we need jobs and responsibiltiy not attack ads and higher taxes.

    August 27, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  5. malabar

    We drive what they do. we hate each other so whats the news?

    August 27, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. jpmichigan

    The LEFT cries foul, when the issue is aimed at Obama, but it did not stop them from attacking Bush or anyone who does not agree with them! Whats good for the goose also applies to the gander!

    August 27, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. More change in November (but good change)

    Repeal the 17th Amendment and allow the State Governments to appoint Senators. This would reduce national senate campaigns and senators would actually represent THEIR STATE rather than their party.

    Yes liberals, senators used to be appointed rather than elected. It makes much more sense–especially in today's world.

    August 27, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. Lisa, Miami

    a very evident sign of the decay of this country.

    so sad but true.

    August 27, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. Discernment


    No surprise that most campaign commercials are attack ads. That is because Americans respond better to attack ads. Duhh!

    August 27, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  10. rdepontb

    Traditional kinds of ads as elections near? Is it really different this time around? Perhaps broader and more vitriolic, sure. Broader in that candidates from top to bottom ballots are engaging in full swinging behavior; more vitriolic-well, foul language and double-entendres and attacks on person and families seem the order of our fine copy writers.

    It's a darned shame. Thank you SImpson, DeMint and Co.

    August 27, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  11. jim

    When you have nothing positive to say about yourself it's easy to say unkind things about your opposition

    August 27, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    When you have a president whose binkyprompter puts words that "slam" his opponents everytime he opens his mouth, or tells lies when he speaks in public (e.g. "summer of recovery" or "not one dime more for healthcare"), of course you will have attack ads. The people who actually work, pay taxes, stay off illegal drugs and accept personal responsibility for thier lives are under constant attack by this union toady president and the liberals in congress and come November the libs out of congress and in 2012 send this fraud the unions perpetrated on the country packing.

    August 27, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. Shari from Madison WI

    I've noticed this. I don't know what anyone stands for as all they can do is attack their opponents. Candidates in both parties no longer say what they are going to do to improve this country, they only attack each other. I hate hate hate these adds. Where is civility? Where is reason? I fear both are gone, possibly for good.

    August 27, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. DIANA

    Well the Republican's have given the Democrats so much to attack, it would be impossible to ignore them.

    The Republican's also don't have any ideas, that's why they're using fear mongering. Last month, illegal immigrants, what happened, did they suddenly stop coming across the border now that our latest boogyman are Muslims?

    Who's going to be your next victim Republicans? Where's your ideas?

    August 27, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  15. KLS

    I can only hope and pray the American public will do their own research on the candidates instead of basing their choice on a 20 second high gloss negative ad or a ranting commentator’s comments. The truth is out there but it takes some effort to find it so PLEASE put some effort into this very important decision!!!

    August 27, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  16. slipthalo

    Another year of the attack ad? I get so sick and tired of this kind of ad. Either tell me what you are for (if you can think of anything), what you support (again, if you can think of anything) or don't count on my vote.
    Until the American voter stands up and decries and condemns these ads they will continue to blast the airwaves and your mailbox.

    August 27, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  17. Sue

    Just think how much money is being spent by these Republicans (of their own money not to mention the campaign money) these are the Rich people that want to take over this country and keep the poor and middle class under about big spenders......if they can spend this kind of money (their own money) what makes you think that they aren't going to spend the Federal Governments money in the same way......and all this money to spread the most Hateful, Mean Campaign Ads that America has ever seen......and yet they haven't given us the American people any solutions as to how they are going to do anything different except take away Social Security, Medicare Education and still give the Rich lower taxes and more Tax Breaks for Big corporations and Big business........losers.......

    August 27, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  18. Dont forget to call Rush on openline friday

    This is a battle the middleclass must win.Fight the Koch brothers and Koch Industries,boycott them and what ever they make,it is the working mans only weapon against their complete takerover.

    August 27, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  19. SA in OO

    Negative ads? Positive ads?

    Whether politicians are positive or negative is the least of our worries.
    None of the ads deal with substantive issues in a manner that would allow anyone viewing them to know what an issue – any issue – is really all about.

    Like almost all TV ads they are emotional appeals aimed at the prejudices of a tragically uninformed public.

    Until the public is willing to do the hard work of actually studying the issues themselves – both sides – then we deserve the government that the political media spin doctors sell us.

    August 27, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  20. Anita W

    I don't like attack ads, and they cost a lot of money, should the spread it to the unemployed, it may be better spent.
    I want to know WHAT THE CANDIDATES PLATFORM IS. what they have done to help the citizens, and how they will listen to the citizens and try to vote the way they want them to vote NOT THE WAY THE PARTY WANTS THEM TO VOTE.

    August 27, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  21. Clwyd

    Has any one checked to see who is doing the attacking? I have and it is overwhelmingly the Party of NO. They still have no plan or program other than the warn out policies of the 8 years before Obama that created this mess. Help Big Oil, Big Business and Wall Street by de-regulating them. Thanks for the financial ruin that you almost brought on us and that in November we must try to stop. We can't giver them a second chance! They may succeed next time!

    August 27, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |