California in negative spending blitz


As the campaign comes into its final week, the airwaves in California are jampacked with negative campaign ads. While I’ve been in San Francisco and Sacramento, I’ve spent my limited time in front of a television watching negative ads packing the advertising breaks on local television.

A break on the local NBC station in Sacramento an hour ago featured five election ads, including four negative ads. These included a positive ad for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, a negative ad by Brown on his opponent Meg Whitman, a negative ad against Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, an ad attacking the sitting San Francisco District Attorney, and an ad by the Democratic candidate for Insurance Commissioner attacking his opponent for taking money from the insurance industry.

Just yesterday, a forum with Meg Whitman, Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger was held at a womens’ forum hosted by Schwarzenegger’s wife Maria Shriver in Southern California. Brown and Whitman were asked whether they would commit to pulling their negative ads for the final week. Brown expressed interest, Whitman said no:

It’s actually quite hard to find a lot of the nastiest ads on the candidates’ Youtube pages, but here are a few that I’ve seen on my TV in the last few days.

This one appeared just then attacking Carly Fiorina for her job-cutting as a Hewlett-Packard CEO:

And this one countering from Fiorina against Barbara Boxer is also quite brutal:

This one from a third party campaign raises the fear of China using American debt to their advantage:

There are many others, including mind-boggling numbers of ads for down-ticket races such as State Senate, State Assembly, Insurance Commissioner, State Treasurer, and local races. Just then I saw an ad for Sheriff of Sacramento County.

This populist and nasty ad comes from the “No on 25/Yes on 26” campaign, who are opposing Proposition 25 (require only a simple majority to pass a budget instead of two thirds and withhold pay from legislators for every day the budget is delayed) but supporting Proposition 26 (redefining fees as “taxes”, thus requiring two-thirds majority to pass them).

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  1. Lots of brutal ads out there in other states. Check out some of Sharron Angle’s ads in Nevada:

    Can you get much sense of how the public is reacting to these ads? I understand the ‘acceptable’ degree of negativity in ads varies from state to state. Do these seem to be considered particularly brutal by Californian standards?

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