Opinion: Amid Clinton-Obama struggle, Americans see campaign as too negative


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Slug fest? Walk in the park? Lollapalooza? Snore?

Half of Americans surveyed say the presidential campaign has grown too negative.

That’s a remarkable shift from February, when 28% viewed the contest as too negative. So that’s nearly doubled in less than two months.

The unresolved conflict between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- with the intensifying crossfire between them, the ‘misstated’ story of the Bosnia landings, the ‘incendiary’ words of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., the ‘3 a.m. phone call’ and the ‘bitter’ working-class voters in small towns -- probably has a lot to do with that.


The Washington-based Pew Research Center has a new report out saying that ‘perceptions about the tone of the campaign ... have changed dramatically over the past two months.’’

And it is the view of Democrats that has changed dramatically. Half of Democrats surveyed say the campaign has been too negative, compared with 19% saying so in February.

‘Democrats are now about as likely as Republicans and independents to say the campaign is too negative,’ Pew says. ‘In February, they were much less likely than Republicans and independents to express this view.’

And get this: ‘While an increasing percentage of Americans sees the campaign as too negative, more also say it is dull and too long. About a third (35%) says the campaign is dull, up from 25% in February.’

Too long? Too long? We’re not even three-quarters of the way through this 23-month, $2-billion extravaganza.

-- Mark Silva

Mark Silva writes for the Swamp of the Chicago Tribune’s Washington Bureau.