News Focus2012 Election

Want to Tear Down Your Rival? Here's What Might Work Best

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Science  26 Oct 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6106, pp. 465
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6106.465

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If you want to attack your political opponent, do it after voters have made up their minds. That's the conclusion of a new and controversial study on the impact of negative advertising in political campaigns. October is the critical month for election propaganda, says a Northwestern University political scientist. She finds that people are most susceptible to negative ads late in the campaign if they attack the candidate they have chosen. The ads can discourage people from voting, she reported last year in work funded by the National Science Foundation.