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Wisconsin Senate Race Nastiest In the Nation Wisconsin Senate Race Nastiest In the Nation

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Blogs / Power

Wisconsin Senate Race Nastiest In the Nation

October 29, 2012
Thought the Obama-Romney fight was nasty? Turns out it's got nothing on the Wisconsin Senate race between Democrat Rep. Tammy Baldwin and former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, which is one of the most negative Senate races in the country.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that 99 percent of broadcast ads aired in the state over a period of 30 days have been negative, citing data from Kantar Media's CMAG. From the Journal Sentinel:

"In one of the most phenomenally negative years ever, the Wisconsin Senate race stands out this fall as perhaps the most negative race in the entire country," says political scientist Ken Goldstein, who heads CMAG.

In CMAG's data, a "negative" ad is simply one that criticizes one of the candidates in the race. It can contain a mix of "positive" and "negative" information, but it isn't purely positive. ("Negative" is used here as a descriptive term, not a judgment about an ad's accuracy or propriety). What the numbers tell us is that, compared with other races around the country, the Thompson-Baldwin battle has been an argument over the two candidates' flaws and weaknesses, not their strengths and virtues.

Democrat Baldwin, a member of Congress from Madison, has been relentlessly portrayed as an "extreme liberal" by Thompson and independent groups on the right. Republican Thompson, former health secretary and governor, has been relentlessly portrayed by Baldwin and independent groups on the left as a D.C. insider making money on his political connections.
The latest series of attacks ads revolve around victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Last week, the Thompson campaign released an ad accusing Baldwin of not honoring the victims while casting her as a leftist. The Baldwin campaign shot back with an ad of its own, accusing Thompson of profiting off of the victims.
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