North Carolina Senate Race Focuses on The Negative

The battle between Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis for the NC Senate Seat will soon be coming to a close with the poll date rapidly approaching. This election has been one of the most heavily funded and discussed elections in recent years. We see proof of this is in the amount of political advertisement that we are constantly bombarded with while watching TV and browsing the internet. These commercials have been extremely harsh and have attacked each of the candidates in an unflattering manner.  The term voter apathy is used to describe the alienation many citizens feel from our government. We often feel like in elections we are picking from the lesser of two evils. These commercials have painted a picture making both Kay Hagen and Thom Tillis seem like horrible options.


Agenda Setting Theory (1968) states that the media has the ability to impact what we as consumers and individuals believe is important. This election, issues of high importance include education, families, and women’s rights. Hagan and Tillis’s campaigns have pegged these issues as high importance and therefore they have become the focus of their attacks on the other. With the recent seven figure ad buy attacking Kay Hagan, North Carolina’s Senate race became number one in outside spending in the history of Senate races, with $55.7 million spent. 

Negative advertisements have completely overshadowed positive ones in recent years. In the 2012 Presidential election, Romney spent 91% of his 492 million dollar advertising budget on negative ads. This trend is not partisan as Obama also spent a majority of his 404 million dollar budget, 85%, on attacking his opponent.  With elections coming up on November 4th, many people may be just as excited to see the end of these ads as to go out and vote. How do negative ads affect your voting preferences?

– Margaret Cafasso, Kierstin Geary, Connor Gold, Olivia Sadler, and Hannah Zeskind