Is the GOP 2012 Race Already Too Negative?

Heading into the Iowa caucuses, Republican presidential candidates ramp up their attack tactics.


The curtain is only just about to rise on the Republican presidential nominating process with Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, but things have already gotten ugly in the GOP field. Iowans have been barraged with negative attack ads. The candidates themselves have also publicly criticized their rivals. Texas Gov. Rick Perry bashed former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, "When he talks about fiscal conservatism, every now and then it leaves me scratching my head because he was a prolific earmarker." Meanwhile, Santorum, who has recently surged in the polls, questioned Texas Rep. Ron Paul's record, saying, "The guy has passed one bill in 20 years. What makes you think he can do any of these things?" These comments come in addition to the countless TV, radio, and print advertisements, many not sponsored by campaigns themselves but rather separate candidate-affiliated political organizations, attacking members of the tumultuous GOP field.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.]

Susan Milligan argues that this focus on the negative may backfire on Republicans come the general election.

It's clear what the Republicans are against and what and whom they don't like. But while that approach may galvanize the base, it might not win an election…Criticizing the competition may get a candidate attention. But to get votes, at some point, they're going to have to present a positive message and vision.

However, Ken Walsh acknowledges that attack tactics, scorned by some, are a reality of campaigns.

High-minded reformers condemn negative television commercials as unfair, simplistic, and vile but, as we're seeing again in Iowa, these ads also can be very effective, and that's why they are so commonly used.

What do you think? Has the GOP 2012 race already gotten too negative? Take the poll and comment below.

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.

Previously: Can Rick Santorum Win the 2012 GOP Nomination?