Female Candidates Can Go Negative But Still Come Out Positive With Voters


According to a recent study, some female voters say they are disappointed when they see a female political candidate go negative, or show their differentiation from their opponent, in a commercial.  

The study found that female candidates are held to a higher standard than male candidates.  Also, voters feel that engaging in negative campaigning brings women candidates down to the same level as a typical politician.

In general, voters remembered negative ads from female candidates more than those from male candidates.

In fact, according to this study, female candidates pay a higher price for going negative overall.

The Barbara Lee Family Foundation, advancing women’s equality and representation in American politics, in partner with Lake Research Partners and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, released surprising facts from a research study, “Change the Channel: Ads that Work for Women Candidates” detailing the best approaches for female candidates to take for campaign commercials.

There are even approaches to take that favor female candidates when they do have to go negative.

Some key findings:

It works for a woman candidate to represent herself in an ad. Voters react more favorably to a woman candidate confidently speaking for herself and her positions.

Voters respond well to negative ads when they feel the negative message is subtle and is delivered by a voter, as opposed to the candidate.

Flipping conventional wisdom on its head, voters appreciate humor from a woman in a negative ad. Humor also added an element of the unexpected, which helped voters remember the ad.

Voters want to hear what a candidate will do for them. Voters respond more favorably to negative ads if the candidate offers them a positive message about her plans, in addition to contrasting with her opponent.

Women voters, especially, want to see and hear from a woman candidate because they “hoped” and “expected” more from women candidates.

The most convincing ads are those in which a real person shares his or her story. Voters feel this helps the candidate’s platform become more relatable and authentic and makes the negativity of the ad seem more subtle. This seems particularly powerful from women candidates whom voters believed would be more likely to bring the voice of real people to the dialogue and would be more in touch with real people’s lives.

Pay close attention next time you see a female politician on TV and see if they follow any of these findings. Hillary 2016 campaign?