Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The McClanahan Ban on Negative Campaigns

Did you know that Kirksville is in the middle of the 2nd District of Missouri? Well, similarly in this way, MO Funds, MO Votes is currently in the middle of covering Rebecca McClanahan in her duel with Zachary Wyatt in the race for Representative of this local District. For this day, we shall be observing a pair of ads (pro and con) for her Campaign; analyzing the message they press and the tools by which it is carried out.

According to, an online collection of politically related articles and link, challenging candidates are more likely to use attack ads than incumbents. Incumbents are more widely known due to their history of service, and therefore already have a built reputation that only needs to be supplemented. Although there have not been any attack ads run this season between Wyatt and McClanahan, it is evident in their ads who is the newcomer and who already has an established record.
In McClanahan’s TV spot called roots, it briefly mentions her political values but mostly bombards the viewer with images of her as a child, her with children, and her in Missouri. It touts her record not as a politician but as a 7th generation Missourian (Wyatt is an 8th generation Missourian, he has one upped her there).  The ad is purely positive in that it never even mentions Zacahry Wyatt.

McClanahan said during an interview with Truman’s own Index that she is running a positive campaign. She went on to say that “her commitment to a 100 percent positive campaign stems not only from a reflection of her personal opinions on campaigning but also from what she said is a call from voters.” Also according to the article, McClanahan says she has encountered some negative campaigning against her, however, we could not find these (and we would like to think we are pretty internet savvy, being college students).

In 2006, Todd Kuhns, current mayor of Kirksville, created a response ad to these negative ads. It pokes fun at the typical black and white grainy photos that tell listeners about all the terrible things a candidate stands for, in McClanahan’s case, it is affordable health care and loving puppies.

To learn more about Rebecca McClanahan, check out our classmates blog here!

                Her opponent’s campaign, (Zachary Wyatt) is turning away from negative campaign ads. This is an atypical campaign strategy as there has been a considerable use of them throughout history. There isn’t a substantial amount of support for their lasting effect on the voter and this may even be weakened by the fact that Rebecca has come out right and told the people of Missouri that she will be running a “100 percent positive campaign.”  However, this doesn’t keep the two from trading positions back and forth; Wyatt and McClanahan both had their chance to speak to local voters about their views and areas of expertise.

Regardless of the ads being run by each side, one thing is clear; advocating your positions, spreading your message, and raising funds for your candidate are crucial to this campaign. Keep an eye out for this race to pour on the advocacy, as we only have a few more days to go!
Our classmates at Winning with Wyatt, have been covering this candidate pretty closely be sure to check them out here!

Come back on Halloween eve eve as we look at more spooky campaign financing!


  1. I just want to point out that the "Pull The Plug" ad is one I did for Rebecca's campaign two years ago. I don't think they're running that this year.

  2. Oh! Thanks for the correction! We found it and liked it! We assumed it was for this year based on the puppy comment and prop B.