I have had my eyes opened. The last campaign I was involved with was the Governor's race in GA when we were able to place Sonny Purdue in office. My job was different in that campaign. First, I was a minor functionary who worked in the statistical area. Second, I was somewhat insulated from the backroom "Strategery" meetings that were held. Other than knowing that Bobby Kahn was the devil himself, I really had no idea what went on, or went into the negative campaign efforts.
An indisputable fact: Negative works, and is absolutely necessary to unseat an incumbent. It is crap-rotten, unseemly and downright nasty politics. All candidates use it, hopefully to open the eyes of the voters who blindly plod along not knowing anything other than "he's my cousin" or "ain't never done anything to me."
Another fact: If it's true, it isn't mudslinging. In a local race in which I have been involved as a supporter, we have records obtained through the open records act and other records previously obtained the same way. When questions were asked of the "other" candidate based on these records, It was characterized as lies, unproven allegations and yes, you guessed it...mudslinging. If I were the other candidate, I guess I may have done the same thing. It sure beats answering questions for which I had no answers. Both candidates always seek to stay above the fray and allow their surrogates to sling the mud for them. Lord, it has been bloody. My candidate has been on the receiving end of absolutely baseless allegations that questioned his integrity, his record of service and his motivation. No records, no facts. Just throw it against the wall and see if it will stick. I remember a noted defense lawyer telling me once that if he had the law on his side, he would hammer on the law. If he had the facts on his side, he would hammer on the facts. If he had neither on his side, he would hammer on the cops. I believe the other side in this race listened to him as well.
Will it ever change? I doubt it. In spite of all the hand-wringing about hating negative campaigning, either side will not hesitate to do it if they feel they have the truth on their side. What I find sad is when it's done just for the sake of doing it. I can tell you this. This is the last time I put a dog in the fight. My dog deserves better.