Negative and Positive Videostyle
Most of the discussion of videostyle in the preceding chapters has focused on the candidates' various approaches and strategies for enhancing their own images through political television spots. This chapter considers in more detail the interaction between this positive approach to image formation and the alternative, a negative videostyle. It is all too clear in modern campaigns that candidates must seek not only to enhance their own images but to use the tools under their control to mold and shape the images of their opponents. Negative videostyle, then, is the presentation of the opponent's undesirable characteristics and issue positions.
As must be clear to readers of earlier chapters in this book, negative advertising has been a feature of presidential campaigns throughout the periods covered in this analysis. While many observers point to the 1964 campaign as the nadir of negative spots, negative advertising seems to have become more prevalent in the 1980s, beginning a new era with the successful use of negative ads in 1980 by independent groups such as the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC) and concern that this negativity was "trickling up" to the presidential level