Colorado is one of the few swing states with nearly equal numbers of Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We’re also blessed (depending on your perspective) to have one of those closely contested Senate races that supposedly will be a key to determining which political party controls the U.S. Senate in 2015.

Certainly, the candidates are vastly different politically, but both are well known in the state. Setting aside whether you agree with their political positions or not, they’re both actually pretty good guys – honorable and hard-working; both are individuals with integrity and strong records of public service.

With that said, however, the political ads leading up to the November election are already hitting the airwaves, and both sides have already gone negative in a very big way. Outside money is pouring into the state, and it appears that Coloradoans will be subjected to a real battle royal, but a very drawn-out and negative one.

The simple reason that both campaigns have started out with negative campaigns that distort the other’s record and impugn their integrity, is quite simple – negative campaigns work. The really nasty stuff they trot out early is aimed at trying to destroy the image, or at least the public’s perception, of the other individual.

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The campaigns will get a little more honest and less aggressive in their tactics as the election draws nearer, but the initial rounds will be all about character assassination. The experts tell us that the one most successful in destroying the other will likely get elected.

While one candidate most assuredly will win, one has to wonder if politicians in general aren’t killing themselves with this common campaign tactic. After all, one of these two scurrilous thugs, as the campaigns paint them, will be the next U.S. Senator from the state of Colorado!

The sad bottom line to this style of campaigning is that politicians end up spending millions of dollars to essentially destroy the public’s trust in them. Can you think of any other industry that spends such prodigious sums of money and effort to undermine their people and products? Well, I guess I can think of at least one other industry – the beef industry.

Marketing has and will always be about differentiation. However, most folks appreciate that, for the good of the industry and its practitioners, it’s important to maintain the public’s trust in the industry, its players and the product. In the beef industry’s case, it’s mostly the niche marketers and small retailers who attempt to differentiate themselves by leaving cleat marks up and down the backs of the industry as whole. And just as in politics, while these negative attacks work, they undermine the overall perception of the endeavor.

Speech is a protected right in this country, so it isn’t really possible to stop either the political mudslinging or the internal industry attacks. The only recourse is to hope for a crisis of conscience among the slingers of the mud.

With that said, I am buckling down for a long bitter campaign season, as well as a continuation of attacks against mainstream beef production. The one thing I am sure of is that the next Senator from Colorado originally started out as a pretty good guy, but will perceived as a villain by a good chunk of the Colorado electorate. Similarly, the marketers who build their beef sales by denigrating conventional beef production will likely move more product. But don’t be surprised when people’s approval of Congress, or overall beef demand, declines as a result. 

 

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