Sunday, April 6, 2008

Negative Campaigning in the Governor's Race

In his column today Rob Christensen wrote about how the negativity in the Democratic primary for Governor could hurt the party's prospects this fall.

I certainly wish that the race didn't have the tenor it does. But neither of the candidates has had much choice about it.

Two different polls in February and March showed Richard Moore trailing by 20 or more points. There is no way he could have made up that gap the way he has without relying on negative advertising. He could have kept the race positive- but the result would have been certain defeat.

Once Moore started attacking, Bev Perdue didn't have much choice but to respond. You can't have your opponent muddying the waters about your character without trying to create the same kind of doubts about him. With the race narrowing at a remarkably fast pace, the Perdue campaign would almost certainly lose its lead without responding in kind to Moore's attacks.

Fred Smith's growing gap against Pat McCrory shows what happens when you don't spend money attacking the front runner.

It would have been nice if Moore and Perdue had signed some sort of mutual disarmament pact about negative campaigning from the get go. But barring that, neither has any choice if they want to win the primary. It may be sad, but that's politics.

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