Politics & Government

In political ads, there's an art to making opponents look ugly

Ominous music rumbles, and a shadowy figure emerges.

It could be a Halloween horror film — or a scene from any number of recent campaign ads. It’s a sure sign the election season is in full swing.

Roy Blunt wears a mask-like scowl in a Robin Carnahan ad. Carnahan appears almost like a crypt keeper in a Blunt spot in Missouri’s U.S. Senate campaign.

In the California governor’s race, an extreme close-up of Jerry Brown shows every vein in his 72-year-old face. His opponent, Meg Whitman, has comatose eyes and talon-like fingers in a Brown ad.

Throughout the history of American politics, candidates have used ghastly images of their opponents, and this year offers a bumper crop.

“An unflattering photo is kind of icing on the cake,” said Shari Bax, an associate professor of political science at the University of Central Missouri. “(Campaigns) look for the most unflattering photos they can find.”

But there’s a science behind deciding how and when to use homely photos of a political opponent.

To read the complete article, visit www.kansascity.com.

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