January 31st, 2012
12:46 PM ET
10 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. v_mag

    John T - "Obama had his chance. He failed us. Im giving the GOP a shot this time"
    And just what is it you loved so much about the Bush/Cheney years? Two costly and unnecessary wars? The economic collapse? The tax cuts for the rich, who promptly sat on the extra cash? Waterboarding? War crimes? Because that's what we'll go back to if Repugnants (God help us) get in again. Neither Rom-money nor Gangrene has differentiated himself from Bush, so we can expect more of the same.

    January 31, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. Maxx

    Newt is such a joke of a candidate it shows how weak a candidate Swiss Bank Account Romney is that he could have lost to him. I think Romney's dishonesty catches up with him in the general election.

    January 31, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. rla

    Some day take a look at the venom that went on between Jefferson and Adams in 1800 or so. It makes this look mild. To me this is just more liberal PC junk that is made up! Let the mud fly and you know we the people can sort it all out without your opinion! I know that makes the media unhappy but get over yourselves.

    January 31, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. ST

    What type of idiots these candidates are?? Burning out money all way through and selling nothing to people. If I were independent I would not have difficulties what side to choose.

    January 31, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  5. Larry L


    "Look at all you people making fun of these candidates. At least they speak the truth and aren't going around talking about "HOPE" and "CHANGE"."
    Nobody has seen these candidates speak the truth and they don't want change – they want to return to the same practices that created the problems. Just look at the fact checkers after each debate. You negative view of "Hope and Change" is perfectly in-line with the Republican mentality. Conservatives have worked tirelessly to obstruct all progress and to diminish hope and prevent a much needed change. It's extremely sad that you seem to take pleasure in the difficulties faced by our President during these challenging times. Republicans created the mess and yet taunt people about the futility of expecting change. Hate radio and tv has produced some poor examples of American patriots – and that includes you.

    January 31, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  6. Lynn

    Once the filings for the SuperPacs and donors are revealed, along with the assessment like the one just provided, I hope voters take a step back and realize how vulnerable our whole system of democracy has become.

    January 31, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. Jimmy

    Everyone gets a front seat to the nasty civil war in the GOP, tea party and conservatives versus the country club rockefeller libs! Romney will LOSE against Obama because conservatives won't have anyone to vote for this fall. Romney IS A LIBERAL! He voted for Carter and Mondale against Reagan. He is a Republican in party but not in ideology. He is a phony.

    January 31, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  8. Heather

    I'm glad Romney is being aggressive in going after Newt. People were too quick to forget his embarrassing past and they needed to be reminded. If Romney didn't remind the voters, Obama would making it easy for him to get re-elected.

    January 31, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. Holly

    I'm glad Romney is being aggressive in his attacks. People were too quick to forget Newt's embarrassing past. If Romney didn't remind the voters, Obama would and that would make it easy for him to get re-elected.

    January 31, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. HHR

    How a candidate treats his/her enemies on the campaign trail is a window to how they will treat opponents when in office. Newt went from behaving in a stand up manner (almost enough to get me to reconsider him), to being a mean bulldog. Frankly, he scares me. Santorum is the only one behaving "presidential". Hmmm.

    January 31, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  11. GL

    The irony of this Presidential Republican primary election is that the same big corporations that back the tea baggers candidates in 2010 or the same ones that is now railing against the tea baggers Presidential candidates to elect a Republican establishment. Mitt Romney is no tea baggers. How do you tea baggers feel about the fact you just got used by the Republicans establishment and taking down with the same big corporations that backed you tea baggers in 2010? If Mitt wins the nominee, good buy tea baggers. Mitt was to the left of Ted Kenny tea baggers. And Ted Kenny is a progressive leftie.

    January 31, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. PM Ohio

    I don't believe it...it's just CNN trying to get Obama elected. hehehehehe I'm going back to Faux News for some fair and balanced reporting. hehehehehe Just kidding. Obama will crush eithier of these clowns, especially when Mittens gets the nod. The GOP's only hope is if Sarah comes to thier rescue at the convention, even then it's probably close to a double digit victory in the Fall.

    January 31, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. westward

    No where NEAR good enough, Republicans!

    January 31, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. PM Ohio

    Jimmy...the GOP knows it already has your vote and 30% of the country, even if the Dems put Satan himself up there for election...they need the moderate/undecided/middle of the road vote to win a national election. That is the only reason Romney will beat Newt. The smart people in your Party have already figured this out. I hope you and millions of other Tea Baggers decide not to vote this Fall. If I were a Tea Bagger, I wouldn't vote for Mittens either. It won't matter either way. Obama will win in a landslide similar to Clinton's 2nd term this Fall...unless the GOP causes an economic meltdown or assasinates him before November. The GOP is desperate and desperate people do desperate things...

    January 31, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  15. Gurgi

    We need a new administration. Following the socialist policies of the current administration will be very damaging for this country. People need to take a look across the atlantic. We have a perfect example of what such policies lead to, there. Another 4 years with no changes and we will be in the same boat as Greece, Italy, and Spain.

    January 31, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. Justinstl

    Not to worry Chris S... None of us will have to worry if WE ALL vote Democrat! American people can not afford a republican in office.

    January 31, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    Romney's Cartel is just warming up with the negativity!

    January 31, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  18. kat

    It's really sad that our candidates are so involved in tearing each other apart. We must unite to get BHO out of office. Stop fighting each other and focus on our real problem. OBAMA!

    January 31, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. mecambridge

    Sure, it is getting nasty, but then people lie when they say they don't like negative ads because they work and people believe them whether they are true or not.
    I don't find this any more vicious than watching democrats 4 years ago have half their party turn against the other half because they wanted to make history with Obama rather than make history with Hillary. Half the party therefore decided that the other half were racist as were the attacks on the Clintons claiming even their own past President and First Lady to be racist. Now hearing that, that was indeed nasty. Unfortunately the democrats have continued that mantra of anyone who disagrees with Obama must be racist, so I often wonder how much damage they have caused and set back the real instances of racism that now will be glossed over after having democrats cry wolf for the past 3+ years and now most people no longer even listen to the phony charges.

    January 31, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. icy

    “I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty. We encourage you to be neat, obedient, and loyal and faithful and all those Boy Scout words.”
    ~Newt Gingrich, advocating for hateful rhetoric and smearing opponents with lies. he gave it then he got it, sore loser.

    January 31, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. Vinney47SLC

    I think it says something that there doesn't need to be any pro-Romney ads on TV; the man sells himself at personal appearances, debates and through other public figures that support his candidacy. And he's winning.

    January 31, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  22. Donkey Party

    It's because of insanely ignorant, delusional and gullible voters like JohnT that we have the mess of a country we have. When will these idiots discover the Fact Check website???

    January 31, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. Debby

    Well I am the minority I love the negative campaigning its good vetting for the candidates. Romney put his ideas forth after 20 debates. I know where he stands, on the economy, immigration, and healthcare. He put out his tax return, we know he is wealthy, he is a good father and loyal husband. Romney is the best to debate Obama on healthcare because he knows how some things didn't work when he implemented it in Mass.

    We have the latter Gingrich, who is a 2 time cheat, got fired as speaker, consulted Freddie and Fannie (who knows maybe thats why they went under) wants to spend billions of dollars on a moon base, and he is just not Presidential material but only damged goods.

    Santorum has good ideas but he is a hot head and in=experienced. I would suggest he read his wifes manners book when he debates.

    Paul is tell it like it is but a little to radical for my liking.

    January 31, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  24. Drew

    I have the really big solution kick all of these nitwits to the curb and get a real candidate and while you are at it get rid of the corporate sponsored PACS. This is the death of democracy having the big money people and corporations buying elections. Limit the time framme of the election process and the amount of money to be spent and vet these idiots way ahead of time. No last minute candidates.

    January 31, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    "GOP 'the most negative party ever,' says media group"

    There, CNN, FIFY.

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