Negative Political Advertising
Through the years, a number of standardized thematic designs have emerged in the dissemination of substantive negative arguments. These standardized themes appear as both manifest and latent symbolic constructs in the political messages presented in the negative ads. The thematic design is constructed through the careful management of conflict and conflict resolution in the advertisement. Both political and personal characteristic issue appeals are used in the development of the negative political advertising themes.
In some instances, ads will utilize more than one thematic design, because the advertising consultants may be using complementary or overlapping themes in order to create a powerful persuasive message. When multiple thematic designs are used, we can characterize these ads as being multi-layered thematic ads. Five overarching thematic designs are considered: being your own worst enemy, the people against you, transfer, us against them, and disparagement humor. A variety of thematic subcategories are also explored (see Table 3. 1).
Sometimes, it seems as if political candidates are their own worst enemies in that the opposition will use the candidates' public performances against themselves. This thematic design demonstrates that the candidates in question do