This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
The United States will hold local, state and national elections this Tuesday.
Opinion studies suggest that the Democrats may be in a position to end
Republican control of one or both houses of Congress.
Also, thirty-six of the fifty states will elect governors. If the Democrats
gain four governor's offices, the Republicans would lose their majority at the
So both parties are fighting hard. Elections in America bring a flood of
political advertising, especially on television. These messages are often
negative or attack ads. They point out not the good qualities of candidates, but
the bad qualities of their opponents. Even if the facts are correct, how they
are presented may be questionable.
Americans traditionally say they dislike negative ads. But political experts
say these ads often work.
In many cases, the candidates who stand to gain from negative ads can say
that their own campaigns were not involved. Outside groups or national party
committees often pay for these ads.
Some are about issues, like a candidate's position on the war in Iraq or
immigration. But political ads increasingly seem to be attacking candidates
Some political observers say this year's election has brought more negative
ads than ever before. Whether this is true remains to be proven.
But some ads have made news, like a Republican National Committee ad against
Harold Ford. The Democrat is in a close race in an important Senate election in
the southern state of Tennessee.
The ad was based on the fact that last year he attended a Super Bowl party
held by the men's magazine Playboy. The ad showed an actress with bare shoulders
saying she met him at the Playboy party. "Harold, call me," she says.
The ad might have seemed humorous, except the woman was white and Mr. Ford is
black. Critics said it was racist. His Republican opponent, Bob Corker,
denounced the ad. It was withdrawn.
Democrats are also running attack ads. In many cases, these try to gain from
President Bush's low approval ratings by linking Republican candidates to him.
But there have also been ads like the one in Florida accusing a Republican
congressman of profiting from a so-called drug deal. The Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee was responsible for the ad.
The ad noted that Clay Shaw sold stock in a drug company after voting for
changes in the Medicare program for older Americans. But the Web site
FactCheck.org says the shares were in a company that could not have profited
from the legislation. FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy
Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
Michael McDonald is a professor of government and politics at George Mason
University in Virginia. He tells us that the Harold Ford ad in Tennessee appears
to have increased early voting in that state. But, as he also noted, more
interest in a race can mean more votes for either candidate.
IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English was written by Brianna Blake. For more
election news, go to www.unsv.com. I'm Steve Ember.