January 31st, 2012
12:46 PM ET
11 years ago

Florida primary 'the most negative campaign ever,' says media group

(CNN) – Nope, it's not your imagination. The 2012 Republican contest in Florida has been the most negative campaign on record, according to a group tracking political ads in the Sunshine State.

The analysis from Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG) shows a whopping 92% of ads airing in Florida over the past week were negative. The organization said Tuesday that was a record rate for political campaigns.

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"I spent much of my academic career telling reporters, 'Relax, this is not the most negative campaign ever,'" CMAG President Ken Goldstein said. "Well, this IS the most negative campaign ever."

Numbers from CMAG show a total of 11,586 television spots aired in Florida between January 23 and January 29. Of those spots, 10,633 were negative and 953 were positive.

Of the 1,012 spots Newt Gingrich's campaign ran, 95% were negative. Mitt Romney's campaign ran 3,276 ads and 99% were negative.

The two super PACs supporting the top candidates were more divergent in their ad strategies. Restore our Future, supporting Romney, ran 4,969 spots, all of which were negative. The Gingrich-backing Winning our Future ran 1,893 spots, and only 53% were negative.

Correspondingly, the bulk of ads in Florida - 68% - were negative toward Gingrich. Twenty-three percent were anti-Romney spots. Gingrich got support from 9% of ads while pro-Romney spots accounted for less than 0.1%.

Florida's contest, which comes to a head Tuesday as voters head to the polls, has been marked by negative campaigning from the two frontrunners.

Romney has acknowledged his campaign entered Florida with a renewed mission to discredit Gingrich after the rival candidate won South Carolina's primary decisively.

On NBC's "Today" Monday, Romney said his campaign decided to respond in kind to negative attacks from Gingrich.

"We were being whaled on by Speaker Gingrich and didn't respond well in South Carolina," Romney said. "So we decided to respond. We made it clear if people want change in Washington you have to bring in someone from outside Washington. Both the change in tactic as well as the message have had a real impact in Florida."

For his part, Gingrich bemoaned the negative attacks from Romney Monday, saying they were "pathetic."

"What a pathetic situation to be running for the President of the United States with nothing positive to say for yourself," Gingrich said. "And nothing available, a big idea, big vision, a big future, and all you got to do is try to tear your opponent down to where they get smaller than you are. That's the Romney model. Now that's not my model. My model is to talk about big solutions."

CNN's Robert Yoon and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Florida
soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. My name is Jose Jimenez

    Maybe true in recent memory, but the election of 1800 was probably just as dirty and possibly more so than the current contest. Go back and read the political ads of the time and you'll be amazed at the length Adams' and Jefferson's supporter went to in smearing their opponent.

    January 31, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. james

    Of course the Media had no hand in all the Negativity–

    January 31, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    "Following the socialist policies of the current administration will be very damaging for this country."

    Again with the lies. Please specify which policies you consider "socialist".

    January 31, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. terrie

    Don't they realize that Americans are watching and listening to them- so busy bashing each other that they do not make the time to tell us what they will do if elected?

    January 31, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    "We're the new GOBP: Turning the hate up to 11!"

    January 31, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. PM Ohio

    People who think that Obama is a flip flopper, must 1st realize that working with a GOP led Congress influenced by the Tea Bagger "my way is the only way" mentality, to get ANYTHING done the past three years takes compromise and negotiation, give and take. Any compromises the POTUS has made, has been a lessor of two evils. When your "The Man", you have to make decision based on the good of the US, which I think this President is trying to do on a daily basis. I did not vote for GW Bush, but I always believed he had the good of the country in his heart, even if i disagreed with his policies. I respected the Office and the Man. The problem is that the GOP doesn't respect Obama. I thnk it's shameful.

    January 31, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  7. PM Ohio

    Yep, blame it on the Media...putting out information and the truth is a bad thing.

    January 31, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  8. Data Driven

    This doesn't bother me. I prefer negative ads to, for example, Newt and that strange-looking woman he's married to wishing me a Merry Christmas. In fact, it's a shame that Newt won't be the nominee: I was looking forward to his ads showing Obama and Saul Alinsky playing golf together.

    January 31, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. Jimmy

    PM Ohio... What is up with the derisive "tea-bagger" reference? do you want the nation to go bankrupt? Because that is where Obama or Romney will take it (The same with Bush I & II, Clinton, Carter, etc.) The only conservative ever elected POTUS was Reagan, but he couldn't accomplish anything because he didn't have the Congress or the courts. How can you discourage conservatism when it has never been applied in our lifetimes?

    January 31, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  10. JimfromBham

    No way this is the most negative campaign ever. Try the Presidential election of 1800, where Adams' "Superpacs" of the day (i.e., the newspapers) referred to Jefferson as Satan, unholy, etc., and Jefferson's crowd called Adams a man who wanted to establish a monarchy inside our new democracy. It was brutal at the national level, not just in a state primary.

    January 31, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. PM Ohio


    "Following the socialist policies of the current administration will be very damaging for this country."

    Again with the lies. Please specify which policies you consider "socialist".

    The Tea Baggers think that Obama invented the "bailouts", when GW Bush gave away more money in his last 4 months than Obama has done since. Once again, the POTUS has to make tough decisions, especially when the world's economies were teetering and ready to collapse. If Bush and Obama wouldn't have given bailout money to US companies three years ago, who knows what we would be doing right now...see the images from the Great Depression for reference. What scares me most about the Tea Baggers is that they wouldn't make that tough correct choice and they would follow thier doctine over what's good for the country and world. Even "Two Wars Bush" was smart enough to know you sometimes have to compromise your ideals for the good of all.

    January 31, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  12. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Those socialist policies? Like ending an unnecessary war, giving tax cuts for 160 million workers, putting an end to DADT, standing up for women's rights, ending the reign of bin Laden and Gadhaffi; increasing veteran's benefits, social security and medicare; loaning money for GM and Chrysler to restructure, saving 1 million auto related jobs, 23 months of consecutive private sector job growth?

    January 31, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Reagan, Bush the elder, and Bush the moron gave us $12 trillion of our national debt. (that includes Bush's TARP)

    January 31, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. Wylie-Mike

    Apparently this one is a test of who would be the most effective in going negative against Obama.
    How on target would they be with facts that Obama would prefer to stay hidden or buried by his own redirects? Whomever runs against Obama will have to be nimble enough to do jujitsu around Obama's redirects and distracts from his policies.

    January 31, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. Gurgi

    @anonymous, Obamacare for one. That is a pretty big one.

    January 31, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. McShannon

    Mitt and Newt really have been mean to one another and for us Democrats watching we can't help but wonder what form of junk will be left of the Republican Party and if they really matter anymore. Giving them a mark for integrity would be difficult and embarrassing as truth has given away to damn the consequences just win. Congress proves to be equally arrogant also.

    January 31, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  17. Howard

    the suckers donate to obama...while Michelle obama drops $50,000.00 in a dress shop in NY, tieing up trafic for blocks. Now his reelection team is out with credit card swipers for donating...this guy has no shame. If he were principaled he would resign for the mess and division he has created...but, like all power mongers he will spend a billion dollars to hold on to POWER, say and do all he can to do so.

    January 31, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  18. mike

    Mitt knows the poorer we get the richer he gets. He has a proven record of destroying the little guy.

    January 31, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. BKS_

    I don’t understand how people still like Obama. Sure he seemed like he would be a good president 3 years ago...Obama has done nothing but restrict small businesses, and put us further into debt. Romney or Newt would be a better than Obama!

    January 31, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  20. phillyboy

    WEAKNESS!! This country is doomed due to the fact of the populus getting their collective feelings hurt when someone disagrees with them. Welcome a different opinion, and back yours up with fact. This is what made the U.S. great and the only thing that can return us to that greatness. Both left and right have good ideas, take the best of both and move forward and stop insulting one another because they don't share your ideas, your weak.

    January 31, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  21. Yikes!

    @ John T
    "Obama had his chance. He failed us. Im giving the GOP a shot this time"

    How long have you been asleep???

    January 31, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  22. Gurgi

    @anonymous-all the bailouts for another. Most everything Obama has done has been in the name of "social justice," socialist in nature.

    January 31, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. Jebus

    Why is this a surprise? Republicans have accused Obama of being everything from a muslim, hitler, stalin, the anti-christ, kenyan. These losers couldn't get elected dog catcher if they didn't run huge smear campaigns full of lies.

    January 31, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. Al-NY,NY


    "Following the socialist policies of the current administration will be very damaging for this country."
    Again with the lies. Please specify which policies you consider "socialist".


    "uhhhhhh......uhhhhh. Where is Rush when you need him???"

    January 31, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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