Timeless Strategy Meets New Medium: Going Negative on Congressional Campaign Web Sites, 2002-2006

James N. Druckman, Martin J. Kifer, Parkin Michael

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


In a few short years, the World Wide Web has become a standard part of candidates' campaign tool kits. Virtually all candidates have their own sites, and voters, journalists, and activists visit the sites with increasing frequency. In this article, we study what candidates do on these sites-in terms of the information they present-by exploring one of the most enduring and widely debated campaign strategies: "going negative." Comparing data from over 700 congressional candidate Web sites, over three election cycles (2002, 2004, and 2006), with television advertising data, we show that candi-dates go negative with similar likelihoods across these media. We also find that while similar dynamics drive negativity on the Web and in television advertising, there are some notable differences. These differences likely stem, in part, from the truncated sample available with television data (i.e., many candidates do not produce ads). Our results have implications for understanding negative campaigning and for the ways in which scholars can study campaign dynamics

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-103
Number of pages16
JournalPolitical Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Campaigns
  • Candidate Web sites
  • Internet
  • Negative campaigning
  • New media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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