As the election season draws to a close, politicians are doing whatever they can to get their names out there and bashing their opponent is as good as any form of that.

U.S. Senate candidates D-N.C. Kay Hagan and R-N.C. Thom Tillis are running brutal ads slamming each other, making the North Carolina Senate race one of the most expensive and vicious in the country right now. But whether attack advertisements are really effective is up in the air.

Scott Windham, Elon University assistant professor of German Scott Windham said he dislikes attack ads because they show a lack of integrity.

“I’m generally disgusted by the way political candidates refuse to engage in what I consider good public discourse and respectful treatment of opposing opinions,” Windham said. “Attack ads are a great example of how candidates are not respectful of the other side.”

According to Kantar Media/CMAG, which monitors TV signals for political advertising, North Carolina candidates and support groups have run more than 90,500 ads and spent more than $54.4 million this election season. North Carolina politicians have spent more than $16 million more than the second state on the list, Georgia, with politicians spending $37.8 million.

The Center for Public Integrity reported that more than 10,800 of these ads in just one-week feature content that negatively targets either Hagan or Tillis. This means viewers are subjected to an average of one attack ad for every minute of television time.

hagan attack adThe same report revealed that in one week, the Hagan campaign ran more than 4,300 attack ads (including ads attacking Tillis for attacking her), while Tillis has only run 2,900 ads attacking Hagan.

According to the Washington Post, Tillis has been attacked more than any other politician this campaign season while Hagan is the eighth-most-attacked politician. But the majority of the money being spent of the negative ad campaigns does not come directly from the politicians’ campaigns, but rather is paid for by independent or nonprofit groups such as Americans for Prosperity, which began running ads against Hagan last October, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has spent more than $17 million targeting Tillis. 

Hagan has criticized Tillis on his support for the voter identification law, fight to defund Planned Parenthood and cuts to education, while Tillis has slammed Hagan for openly supporting President Barack Obama, voting with him 96 percent of the time.

Windham is frustrated by the lack of clarity that comes with attack advertisements.

“I wish that candidates would outline what they stand for in more detail instead of using empty words,” Windham said. “In the last election people were calling Obama a socialist, and regardless of if you support him or not, the fact is that he is not a socialist. Anyone who says that he is clearly has no idea what the word means.”

Like Windahm, Junior Anna Patterson said she is also disgusted by candidates who run ads against their opponents and said she will be taking this into consideration when she casts her vote.

“We need to elect people who will work together to find common ground, not attack each other and create greater divides in our already polarized system,” Patterson said. “I would be less likely to vote for someone who runs an attack ad.”


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