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Logic behind smear campaigns

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By Sherry Robinson

We’ve all wanted to tell candidates what we think of their mud fights, and I got a small opportunity during primary season. When a candidate came to the door, I said, “I’ve only gotten one mailer from you, and it was negative. Why did you go negative?”
The candidate, who had a long record of civic involvement and impressive endorsements, said he thought it was important to point out certain facts about his opponents. It’s true that we need to see all sides of the candidates, but their competitors are hardly credible sources. He talked a while and was quite likable, but I still didn’t vote for him.
His two opponents also knocked at the door and sent fliers saying simply who they were and what they hoped to accomplish. One of these people won hands down, and Mr. Negative Mailer bombed.
This was a small but admirable pattern across the state and indicates that voters are smart enough or skeptical enough to withstand smear campaigns, regardless of the source. It just may be that the tide of sludge is becoming less effective. We can hit a mental mute button and tune it all out.


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