Encouraging reports from North Carolina, not-so-encouraging reports from Kentucky.
In North Carolina, Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s campaign dived into negative campaigning, with a crude and inaccurate campaign ad against her rising-in-the-polls opponent, state Sen. Kay Hagan. It appears many voters are disgusted with the negative ads. In any case, the Charlotte Observer wrote an editorial condemning Dole’s ad and negative tone, “Dole’s desperate turn to Big Lie advertising.” Good on them.
In Kentucky, however, we learn that negative campaigning can still pack a punch among poorly educated or bigoted groups. The Lexington Herald-Leader has a poll showing significant portions of Kentucky voters think Barack Obama is Muslim.
One might recall Dumas Malone’s description of the election of 1800, between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson thought it beneath his dignity, and not part of American politics, to discuss a candidate’s religious faith. Alexander Hamilton, on behalf of Adams, led a campaign of calumny in newspapers throughout the U.S. saying that because Jefferson was atheist, as president he’d send the army to confiscate Bibles. Jefferson refused to respond. Malone notes that on election day, fully half of all American voters were convinced Jefferson was atheist.
They voted for Jefferson anyway, rather than stick with the failed policies of Adams. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.