The Tri-Mediation Model of persuasion: a case for negative political advertising?

Keith S. Coulter
Clark University

INTRODUCTION

One of the most discussed aspects of the recent (i.e. November 2006) United States Congressional election campaigns was the widespread use of negative advertising. As an example, in the State of Connecticut where the media budgets of incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman and Democratic challenger Ned Lamont reached into the tens of millions of dollars, the proportion spent on negative advertising was estimated at well over 80% (Lender 2006). A content analysis of the political advertising used in three US national elections demonstrated that nearly half the advertising mentioned both candidates, and over 22% of the ads contained direct candidate comparisons in which an attempt was made to cast the opposing candidate in a 'negative' light (Boiney & Paletz 1991). Further, Kaid (1996) reports that in the 1992 US presidential election campaign, nearly 69% of (then) Governor Bill Clinton's ads were 'negative'.