Supreme Court ruling on negative ads to affect presidential race: Vanderbilt expert

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling to allow issues ads funded by corporations and labor unions to air close to an election has major implications for the 2008 presidential campaign, according to Vanderbilt University political scientist John Geer.

“Experts had already anticipated an ‘air war’ on television with the close contest, high stakes and likely huge war chests on both sides to fund them,” said Geer, author of In Defense of Negativity: Attack Ads in Presidential Campaigns. “Now with this ruling by the Supreme Court, we can expect even more ads, and many of these that will now be allowed under this ruling will be negative.”

Geer, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt, said that the normal reaction is that more ads and especially more negative ads are a bad thing for the electoral process. However, he urges caution. “Negative ads often contain more useful information for voters than their positive counterparts.” His book, published by the University of Chicago Press, lays out much of the reasoning behind his unorthodox view of negative ads.

Geer can be reached for interviews by email at

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