Negative ads are ‘actually very helpful’ says PFW Professor

Local News

Director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue Fort Wayne Andrew Downs spoke about the negative campaigning that’s been seen in the race for Fort Wayne’s Republican mayoral nomination, a week ahead of the Indiana primary on May 7. That race features Tim Smith, John Crawford and David Roach

“If negative campaigning didn’t work, they wouldn’t use it,” said Downs. 

In mid-April, Republican mayoral candidate Tim Smith released a campaign ad targeting one of his opponents. John Crawford, saying his 20 years in public service were “harmful to Fort Wayne.” 

“I’ve never had a candidate be that mean-spirited and malicious as those ads,” Crawford said after the ad first aired. 

“This ad is about informing and educating voters as to the differences between John Crawford and me,” said Smith in defense of the ad. 

Downs said the ad is a form of negative campaigning because it gave an incomplete recollection of Crawford’s voting record while on council, and the cartoonish nature to it made it come across as more personal, according to Downs. 

However, Downs said those kinds of campaign ads can be helpful to voters. 

“The stuff that some people refer to as negative is actually information-dense,” said Downs. “It’s some of the best information that we can get. It’s quite often cited in the commercial so you can look up the original source, and that makes it in many respects very helpful.” 

With a municipal primary coming up, Downs says these are the types of elections where voters can be the most informed. 

“When it comes right down to it, what most people experience on a day to day basis are local issues,” Downs said. “Are potholes getting filled? Is garbage getting picked up? What’s happening in terms of economic development in your community? Does the fire department show up? These are the things that people notice on a day-to-day basis and really in many respects might be in the best position to have an informed opinion about.” 

Indiana’s primary voting day is May 7. Early satellite voting opens May 1 at these locations

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