The current state of political advertising exploits and hardens the coarseness of our civil discourse.

As the election season nears its end, the electorate – particularly those in swing states – will rejoice as the curtain closes on the avalanche of distortions, lies, incendiary claims and accusations that passes for political advertising in the world’s oldest democracy.

As a citizen, I feel debased. As an advertiser, I’m incensed.

In the 100 days leading to Nov. 8, nearly $10 billion will have been spent by candidates, political parties, political action committees and interest groups promoting their choices, denigrating their opponents, and basically polluting political discourse.

Academics will weigh in, as they do during and after each election. At no surprise to a professional marketer, research shows that citizens are, in fact, influenced by some advertising.

According to a 2021 study from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University about the e!ect of advertising in the 2020 election:

• Positive ads encourage turnout
• Negative ads suppress turnout
• Negative ads are more persuasive at influencing voters’ decisions.

In a study published in the American Political Science Review in May 2022, UCLA Professor Lynn Vavrek concluded that “the e!ects of (political) advertising are small and go away quickly.” But she noted that “small does not mean inconsequential, especially in a close race.”

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