According to the to a study by the University of Wisconsin’s Wisconsin Advertising Project, since the end of the conventions and the “official” start of the campaign it is Barack Obama who has been way ahead in running “negative ads. Seventy-seven percent of Obama’s commercials were negative during the week after the Republican National Convention, compared with 56 percent of the spots run by McCain.According to Ken Goldstein who ran the study”It suggests that the Sarah Palin pick and the newfound aggressiveness by McCain got into Obama’s head a little bit,” Goldstein said. “He was under great pressure to show some spine, be aggressive, fire back.”For weeks the Democratic Party has been begging Obama to “grow a pair” and it looks as if he has listened in a nasty way. Karl Rove suggests that this is a bad move for his campaign. The public still has questions about the Jr. Senator from Illinois and he should be selling himself, rather than ripping McCain:

Obama Needs to Sell Himself, Not Attack McCain By KARL ROVE
Be careful not to assign too much scientific precision to polls. They aren’t as accurate as portrayed. But several different surveys at roughly the same time that show similar results are useful guides. So three trends in recent polls must worry Sen. Barack Obama and encourage Sen. John McCain. First, an average of seven national polls the week before the Democratic convention showed Mr. Obama leading Mr. McCain by two points. By the middle of the next week, Mr. Obama’s lead had climbed to almost eight points. Now, nearly two weeks later, Mr. McCain has a lead of roughly two points. Since the middle of the GOP convention, one out of every 10 voters has changed their preference — a significant movement this late in the campaign. That movement comes, in part, from gains Mr. McCain has made on personal leadership attributes. In the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, for example, he lengthened his lead on the question of who would be a better commander in chief (he’s now ahead by 45 points). He is also seen as the stronger leader, and as the more honest and trustworthy candidate. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama saw his lead on who would “bring needed change” drop by 20 points. The same survey found that 48% of Americans consider Mr. Obama unqualified for the presidency, virtually unchanged from 46% in March and June. When Fox News asked voters whom they would ask for advice for the toughest decision in their life, voters favored Mr. McCain by a 50% to 34% margin. There is a similar pattern on issues. Both the Fox News and Washington Post/ABC polls showed Mr. McCain’s advantages grew on terror, Iraq and an “unexpected major crisis,” while he erased Mr. Obama’s edge on energy, and cut the Democrat’s lead on both the economy and the deficit to acceptable levels. Perhaps most surprising of all, five recent national polls have shown a significant tightening in party identification, eroding a big lead Democrats have enjoyed since 2006. How durable are these changes? We don’t know. But opinions solidify as an election approaches, and this one is now only 47 days away.

About Karl Rove

Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy making process. Before Karl became known as “The Architect” of President Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden. Karl writes a weekly op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is now writing a book to be published by Simon & Schuster. Email the author at [email protected] or visit him on the web at

There are a number of reasons for these changes. The Democrats had a less successful convention. Sen. Joe Biden doesn’t reinforce, but instead conflicts with, Mr. Obama’s change message. And the Republicans had a good convention and a great introduction of Gov. Sarah Palin as Mr. McCain’s running mate. She has a rare visceral connection with both swing and base voters. It’s also possible that the do-nothing Congress is dragging down the Democrats’ brand. Events have intruded, often to Mr. McCain’s benefit. He turned rising oil prices to his advantage by embracing offshore drilling. Russia’s invasion of Georgia highlighted Mr. McCain’s foreign policy credentials (and may have compelled Mr. Obama to add Mr. Biden, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, to his ticket). The idealism and discipline that led to Mr. Obama’s early primary victories has been replaced by unattractive attacks on Mr. McCain. Both campaigns have engaged in a tit-for-tat, but because Mr. Obama ran on “turning the page” on “old politics,” he suffers more than Mr. McCain, especially since his attacks are more fundamentally unfair. It is a mistake for Mr. Obama to spend a lot of time attacking Mr. McCain. In the past week, he, his surrogates or his ads have mocked Mr. McCain’s inability to use a keyboard (an activity, like combing his hair or tying his tie, that Mr. McCain has difficulty with because of war wounds), claimed his administration would be riddled with lobbyists, tried to make an issue of his age and successful cancer treatment, missed no chance to suggest he’d be President George W. Bush’s third term, and called him “dishonorable.” This last charge is particularly foolish. It’s one of the last things voters will believe about John McCain. The people who can be won over by shouting “McCain is Bush” long ago sided with Mr. Obama. That message does not resonate with undecided voters. The Democrat should instead spend every moment spelling out what he would do to address the country’s challenges. This election is not fundamentally about Mr. McCain. It is much more about people’s persistent doubts concerning Mr. Obama. The only way to reassure them is to provide a compelling, forward-looking agenda. That sounds obvious, but the Obama campaign seems to be betting on making Mr. McCain an unacceptable choice by striking at his character. Mr. McCain has absorbed many harder blows than anything the Obama campaign can throw his way. In a revealing slip in an interview with ABC recently, Mr. Obama said, “If we’re going to ask questions about who has been promulgating negative ads that are completely unrelated to the issues at hand, I think I win that contest pretty handily.” That he is in fact winning the contest for the most negative campaign could well spell his defeat.