Report: Md governor's race among nation's most negative

September 30, 2014|By Erin Cox | The Baltimore Sun

If you thought the televised ads in Maryland’s gubernatorial race seemed particularly negative recently, it’s not just you. 

New data released Tuesday ranked Maryland as having the highest percentage of negative television ads in any gubernatorial race in the nation. 

The Wesleyan Media Project tracks all broadcast political ads in every statewide congressional and gubernatorial contest in the country. The group labels the content of each ad as either "negative," "contrast," or "positive."

Researchers found something unsurprising to anyone who has recently watched TV in the Baltimore area: Maryland candidates have a preponderance of attack ads. 

In the political ads aired between Sept. 12-25 in Maryland's gubernatorial race, 82.1 percent of the content was negative and offered voters nothing besides an attack on an opponent. That's nearly 10 percentage-points higher than the state enduring the next highest onslaught of negativity. (72.3 percent of ads in Illinois were deemed "negative.") 

But despite the high ratio of attack ads on Maryland airwaves, researchers did not dub the fight between Democrat Anthony G. Brown and Republican Larry Hogan as the most negative in the country, according to its composite rankings that take into account all types of ads.  The distinction of most negative was given to Wisconsin, where voters watching the neck-in-neck race between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democrat Mary Burke saw a measely 3.7 percent of "positive ads."  All of the remaining ads were either "negative" ads or a "contrast" ad that offers something positive about one candidate plus an attack on an opponent.  

In Maryland, relatively few of those contrast ads were on the air, and candidates had a greater number of positive messages about themselves. Together, those factors dropped Maryland to the No. 5 spot in the composite negativity score, putting the state behind Wisconsin, New York, Connecticut and Minnesota.   

The analysis out of Wesleyan, a Connecticut liberal arts college, did not take into account any of those negative web ads that each campaign in Maryland has been circulating. 

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