Attack Advertising in State Supreme Courts: Evaluating the Conditional Effects of Ballot Type
42 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012 Last revised: 15 Aug 2012
Date Written: 2012
This project evaluates whether televised attack advertising has detrimental effects on the electoral performance of state supreme court justices seeking reelection. I examine this question by estimating theoretically specified models of vote shares that include all televised messages for incumbents and challengers in 76 partisan and nonpartisan elections in nineteen states from 2002 through 2006. I also rely on CMAG advertising data and campaign finance measures to disentangle the effects of advertising from campaign spending. Results show that attacks have deleterious effects on the incumbency advantage but only in nonpartisan elections. In this regard, the preference for nonpartisan elections among many reform advocates has rendered some concerns about the pernicious effects of negativity into self-fulfilling prophecies. More broadly, these findings demonstrate the powerful force of institutional arrangements in shaping democratic politics and highlight striking similarities between state supreme court elections and elections to other important offices in the United States.
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