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EDITORIAL: Negative politics

As much as we say we don’t like negative campaigning, the combatants know the fear and anger it stirs up can be good for business.
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There are many reasons why there’s been so much negativity in our current provincial election campaign. 

It's politics and a tight race and. But most importantly, it works. 

Although many voters look forward to May 29 for no other reason than it’s when all the mudslinging will mercifully come to an end, it’s hard to blame parties for taking such an aggressive approach given provocative, sound bite-friendly clips are far more likely to have an impact than even the weightiest policy announcement. 

You might not be conversant with the intricacies of the United Conservative Party’s platform to address cost of living pressures, but you’re undoubtedly familiar with their refrain that Rachel Notley’s NDP would make life more expensive for Albertans. 

Conversely, the New Democrats haven’t been shy about sharing some of Danielle Smith’s controversial comments from the recent past in an effort to paint the UCP leader as someone who isn’t fit to lead this province. 

Parties are playing to our emotional side because that kind of messaging has a better chance of sticking in our brains all the way to the ballot box. It’s why the NDP dredged up a two-year-old comment Smith made on a podcast that compared Albertans who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 to supporters of Adolf Hitler and why the UCP has dubbed Notley as 'Notley-occhio' for lying to the public. 

In the post-Trump era (arguably even before he burst onto the political scene south of the border) negative campaigning has become as much a part of political elections as any other aspect. Attack ads, mudslinging, and leaking an opposing candidate's damaging past or controversial statement are unfortunately now par for the course.

With less than a week to go until the election, it’s a safe bet that Albertans are in store for more negative campaigning in the coming days. Because as much as we say we don’t like it, the combatants know the fear and anger it stirs up can be good for business.


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