Election campaigns: Attacks and smearing backfire and can benefit other candidates

Candidates often give in to temptation to attack opponents in electoral campaigns through negative ads (more than 55% of the ads aired by the Clinton and Trump campaigns in 2016 were negative), even if evidence of this tactic effectiveness is mixed. A study by Bocconi University professors Vincenzo Galasso, Tommaso Nannicini and Salvatore Nunnari, just published in the American Journal of Political Science, reveals the backlash of electoral smearing and shows that, in a three-candidate race, it’s the “idle candidate” (the one neither attacking nor being attacked) that has the upper hand.

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