Political smear campaigns

Other Names:
Negative election campaigning
Political vilification
Dirty tricks politics
Filthy campaigning
Political mudslinging

Because voters do not study the detail of policies, but go for the general impressions, it is important for political parties to build a picture of unity and affinity with popular prejudices. There is no place for civilized debate when weaknesses of political rivals are exploited.


Political mudslinging was self-destructive for one USA senator's campaign in 1990. Senator Boschwitz of Minnesota, in an effort to reduce newcomer Paul Wellstone's credibility, attacked Wellstone's religious convictions and ability to manage governmental budgets. Wellstone, rejecting reverse attacks on Boschwitz's dirty campaigning, maintained his campaign with truth, humour and dedication to governmental issues. Boschwitz's 9 point lead in the polls evaporated in the last few days of the race, and Paul Wellstone was elected.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST