The thing that really bugs me though, is that these aren't logical, thoughtful rebuttals of the agenda and values of their opponents. They're raw emotional attacks, designed to bypass the mind and incite negative emotions such as fear, worry, hate, condescension and anger. And they expect people to vote well after being worked into such a state?
And why do people vote on the issues anyway? Why are special interest groups such a strong - and revered - force? In my mind, you should be voting for someone you trust to do a good job, and make good, sound decisions - and by that I DO NOT mean that they will make only decisions that you agree with. Nobody is going to make decisions that everyone agrees with all of the time! One of the lessons of growing up and becoming a mature adult is that you're not always going to get your own way, and people do not always have to agree with you. And even in the political/governmental arena - that's okay. The country's not going to fall apart. Really.
The problem with current political ads, even the 'positive' ones, is that they don't really deal with how the person makes decisions, or how the decisions they've made in the past have turned out. They don't give you any idea whether they're capable of making good, strong, well-reasoned decisions. Or, just as importantly, if they're capable of standing by decisions, even under pressure. This seems to me to be a better political skill than fighting for the issue of whatever special interest group will give you the most money.
Next year I'd like to see a new generation of political ads. 1) I'd like to see a complete lack of negative, mud-slinging, junior-highish ads. 2) I'd like to see ads that use logic and reason, rather than raw emotion. 3) I'd like to see ads that deal not only with WHAT decisions have been made in the past by a candidate, but WHY they made those decisions, and HOW those decisions turned out. Then I might actually have a reason to vote!
(Republican elephant and Democratic Donkey above from their respective Committe websites. Does not imply endorsement of the Republican or Democratic party in any way, shape or form.)