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Campaign with Civility

Posted - Oct. 15, 2010 at 3:54 a.m.



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Campaign season often gets ugly with candidates "going negative" in a desperate quest for votes. It is a time, in KSL's view, for voters to be especially discerning about the advertising they see and the carefully crafted messages that are sent their way.

Utah's gubernatorial race is a case in point.

Students at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics have been rating campaign ads for their tone and impact on civility. They say several of the ads being run by Mayor Peter Corroon, the Democratic candidate for Governor, are decidedly negative, while Republican Governor Gary Herbert's ads have a much more civil tone.

Both candidates, in KSL's view, have much to offer and Utah voters deserve an enlightened debate about an array of vital challenges facing the state. Yet, much of the discussion has degenerated into negative banter, fueled in large part by Corroon's ads.

While scholars are divided on the ultimate effectiveness of negative campaigning, there is credible research to show voters don't like it. One respected study found "eight in ten voters say attack-oriented campaigning is unethical, undermines democracy, lowers voter turnout and produces less ethical officials."*

KSL doesn't like it either and would prefer all candidates, including Mayor Corroon, avoid the temptation, even desperation of going negative.

*The Dimensions of Disgust: Citizen Attitudes and Codes of Campaign Conduct, Institute for Global Ethics.

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