Scientific article

Why “Going Negative?” Strategic and Situational Determinants of Personal Attacks in Swiss Direct Democratic Votes

Published inJournal of political marketing, p. 1-31
Publication date2016

While negative campaigning has received increased attention, scholars have mostly focused on its effects. Studies looking at the determinants of negative campaigning remain sparse. Our article contributes to literature by developing a two-level model that takes into account the strategic choices of political actors and their characteristics as well as the context in which the negative strategy takes place. We apply our model to a rich data set of newspaper ads regarding direct democratic votes held in Switzerland. Our results show that negative campaigning, as measured by personal attacks, is more likely if political actors defend the status quo or are lagging behind in the polls, if the ad stems from a populist right party or entails no explicit endorsement, or if the ballot day draws near. Popular initiatives and more intense campaigns also generate a higher share of negative campaigning. Overall, then, a number of causal factors identified in (U.S.) elections also matter in Swiss direct democracy, which suggests that the reasons that make political actors willing to ‘‘go negative'' are of broad relevance.

  • Negative campaigning
  • Personal attacks
  • Strategic behaviour
  • Direct democracy
  • Switzerland
Citation (ISO format)
NAI, Alessandro, SCIARINI, Pascal. Why “Going Negative?” Strategic and Situational Determinants of Personal Attacks in Swiss Direct Democratic Votes. In: Journal of political marketing, 2016, p. 1–31. doi: 10.1080/15377857.2015.1058310
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1537-7857

Technical informations

Creation03/08/2016 9:27:00 AM
First validation03/08/2016 9:27:00 AM
Update time03/15/2023 12:12:42 AM
Status update03/15/2023 12:12:42 AM
Last indexation01/16/2024 8:26:27 PM
All rights reserved by Archive ouverte UNIGE and the University of GenevaunigeBlack