Think of this as Volume 11, Number 44 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
Here is a headline from next Wednesday's paper.
The personal crap did not work.
By personal crap I mean ads like the one above, designed to make one candidate seem like a bad person, with bad motives. This is an extreme example of the type, but similar ads have long been a campaign staple. Usually they work.
Not this time. A lot of the down-ticket races will go this time to the candidate who goes positive first, who talks about what they stand for, and what they want to do, first, rather than trying to paint their opponent as a bad person.
Hate is a luxury at times like this.
Hate is a luxury when you can remember having plenty and find yourself with nothing. Hate is a luxury when you have been brought low, you're sitting there stunned, and you need a reason to get back up.
I'm not talking here about ads which point out a difference between two candidates, which criticize the other person's record or their stands on the issues. You can make such ads, and run such ads, and some will be effective. But make sure, as of the moment you read this, that your campaign has a positive message for the weekend or you are going to lose.
Hate is a luxury at a time of crisis. Hate is not to be confused with determination. Back in 1968, at the height of our last crisis, the Nixon campaign closed with an ad saying something like "This time, vote as if your whole life depended on it" and that was fine. You want people to feel that the coming election is important, that their vote is vital to the outcome. Had Nixon closed with ads saying Humphrey hung out with hippies (something many of his supporters felt at the end, since Humphrey had come out against the war in Vietnam by that time) it's possible he would have lost.
Or think about the last two elections which took place against a backdrop of economic pain. Did Reagan close with negative ads? Did Clinton close with negative ads? No. And if you want a chance of winning on Tuesday you had better not, either.
One more thing.