Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Professor predicts presidential campaign will get ‘plenty nasty’

Who says it never rains in Colorado? For the last few months the state has been flooded with political ads, hopeful rhetoric and campaign promises that no umbrella could possibly withstand.

And according to one University of Denver professor, the forecast from now through Nov. 4 is for an even harder downpour.

“Colorado has been targeted aggressively [because] nine electoral votes are a serious prize in a close election,” says Seth Masket, assistant professor of political science.

The tight race is just one of many items on Masket’s agenda for a class coming in October called “Wooing the Voters: Understanding Campaigns and Elections,” which is part of the University College enrichment program that features noncredit courses, lectures and seminars for non-DU students.

Masket also predicts the election will “get plenty nasty.”

“The election is close and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Both campaigns will likely use what small advantages they can to peel off some voters from the other side,” Masket says.

Another topic of discussion slated for his class is negative advertising. As much as people complain about negative ads, they’re used, Masket says, because they work. “They can actually change the minds of people who are on the fence,” he says. “Sometimes they’re distorted or grossly simplified, but the ads actually hold candidates accountable for their past behavior.”

Conversely, Masket says, positive ads can introduce a candidate to the electorate, “although the ads don’t have a huge effect in moving votes,” he says.

Denver resident Anita Zimmerman, 62, says she’s taking the class to better understand the electoral process. “We’ve been inundated with all kinds of media coverage, and I’d just like a clearer picture of how campaigns work,” Zimmerman says.

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