I’m hearing a number of people say that the upshot of last night was a rebuke for negative campaigning. But I don’t buy it. Because it misconstrues cause and effect.
To a great degree people are talking about the Corzine campaign and probably to a lesser degree Hoffman. But the reason negative campaigns often lose isn’t necessarily because people don’t like negativity. It’s because you usually get into running a negative campaign because that’s the last card you’ve got to play. McDonnell could run a feel good campaign because he was kicking Deeds butt pretty much the whole way. Conversely, Corzine didn’t lose because he ran a negative campaign. He ran a negative campaign because he was incredibly unpopular with New Jersey voters. And making Christie equally unpopular was really his only path to victory. This is elementary.