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Consultant: Negative political mailers here to stay

PHOENIX — Anyone’s mailbox is probably filled with them: Print ads attacking one political candidate without ever mentioning the name of the candidate that they support.

Take, for example, a mailer received by 92.3 KTAR from the Arizona Democratic Party. It attacks Congressman Jeff Flake, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jon Kyl. The ad never mentions Flake’s Democratic opponent, Richard Carmona.

Valley political consultant Stan Barnes said that such ads are pretty common.

“Negative campaigns in the recent past have proven to work,” he said. “Candidates in the modern era cannot help themselves with the ability to drive down their opponents’ positives.”

Barnes said there is evidence of efforts to pull away from negative campaign ads.

“I think there’s a counterwave happening,” he said. “There are measureable experiments where you can show voters are turned off by them, and the negative campaign having the opposite effect of which it is intended.”

But, Barnes concluded, as long as the ads work, they’re here to stay.