Going Negative, Worldwide

Alex Nai has a new publication in “Government & Opposition” titled “Going Negative, Worldwide: Towards a General Understanding of Determinants and Targets of Negative Campaigning”.


Read the abstract here: Little comparative evidence exists about what causes candidates to use negative campaigning in elections. We introduce an original comparative data set that contains experts’ information about campaigning strategies of 172 candidates competing in 35 national elections worldwide between June 2016 and May 2017. Analyses reveal several trends: incumbents run positive campaigns but are especially likely to attract attacks, candidates far from the ideological centre are more likely to ‘go negative’, candidates tend to attack frontrunners and rivals that are far from them ideologically, but they also engage in a logic of attack reciprocity with selected candidates. The comparative nature of the data also allows us to test whether variations in the context affect the use of campaign negativity; we find that the context matters mostly indirectly, by altering the effects of individual characteristics.