As political ads run endlessly leading up to the general election in November, you have to wonder if going negative and attack ads affect voter behavior. The answer, according to nearly 300 survey respondents, is no – not by a long shot. 

The online survey, conducted Sept. 24-28 by Scottsdale-based advertising agency Santy, asked voters about their views and perceptions of negative political advertising and how ads impact their voting decisions. Survey respondents were from Arizona and around the U.S. and represented diverse political parties and backgrounds. The findings:

• Only 10 percent said political advertising in general influences their voting decisions

• More than 80 percent said they feel more negative about politicians using negative ads

• Nearly 60 percent indicated negative ads don’t change how they feel about the ‘victims’ of the ad content

• Less than 1 percent said negative ads would change their voting behaviors

• More than 70 percent of survey participants said they do their own research to fact check claims made in negative political ads

“Clearly, in this most hostile time in American politics, voters feel little empathy for those who attack others,” said Adam Pierno, Santy’s director of strategy. “Largely, going negative is a desperate move to get the public’s attention. Bottom line: likely voters said negative advertising doesn’t impact their voting decisions.”

The survey also asked about consumer expectations and beliefs about brand advertising overall. The findings include:

• More than 50 percent of consumers indicated advertising influences their buying behaviors

• More than 97 percent of survey recipients said they prefer brands that convey positive messages

• Just under 50 percent said negative ads against competitors make them feel bad toward the advertiser attacking other companies

• Consumers enjoy humor in advertising – making the brand message more memorable, informative and influential