Mud Money: McCain's Media Missteps

Give John McCain one of those word association tests that Carl Jung dreamed up in the middle of the last century and it will pretty much go like this. Cat: "Experience!" Life: "Experience!" Tragedy: "Experience!" Safety pin: "Experience!"

For a guy so bent on assuring us of his corner on the market of experience, McCain doesn't seem to be making much use of it with his ad campaign. If you run the same word association test on the subject of McCain's media buys? "Negative!"

But what has this strategy gotten him so far?

A number of pundits this week have made note of a University of Wisconsin study showing that during the week of September 28 through October 4, nearly 100 percent of the McCain campaign's advertisements were negative, while only 34 percent of Obama's ads contained a negative tinge. By comparison, in all of 2004 only 64 percent of the Bush campaign's ads were negative, compared to 34 percent for John Kerry. While it worked for Bush, it is not working at all for McCain.

And while the recent study only tracks ads up until October 4, this week we see a continuation of McCain's surge in the negative ad war with the "Who Is Barack Obama?" series -- the most recent entitled simply "Dangerous."

Following the bump he got from bringing Sarah Palin to the ticket a few weeks prior, McCain has seen the gap between himself and Barack Obama widen in some polls to as much as nine percent -- a number that even prominent Republicans are starting to admit just might be insurmountable. So, why does he keep running the negative ads? Considering Einstein's definition of insanity as someone trying the same thing again and again and expecting different results, we are left to wonder whether McCain is committing political suicide.