The aggregate of negative statements by campaign shows a clear scenario of “One Against All and All Against One”, with Romney being the one. However, data shows a subtext of dynamic adjustments that demonstrate a steady increase of negativity of Romney toward Obama and a shift in Gingrich and Santorum’s strategies to benefit from a similar focus on Obama.

Romney criticism towards Obama has increased steadily since January. In the beginning of the year, negative statements from Romney’s campaign toward Obama represented 27% of their total negative statements. In February this number increased to 40% and in March this reached a high of 55%, – meaning most negative statements by Romney are directed against Obama. This rise can be seen in the increase in the purple in the chart below left. Romney’s negative statements toward his Republican rivals center mostly around electoral debates and state elections results. (Click on the images to enlarge).

 

 

Gingrich and Santorum launch negative campaigns.
As analyzed in a previous 4th Estate post (Santorum Going Negative over Last 30 Days), Santorum has increased its negative campaigning against Romney, but he has simultaneously increased criticism against Obama. Santorum dedicates 65% of his increasing negative statements to Romney and 20% to Obama. He is starting to run two parallel negative campaigns.

Gingrich’s negative messaging is directed mostly against Romney, but has recently launched a mini-negative campaign against Obama too. In March alone, Gingrich has dedicated 62% of his negative statements to Romney and 30% to Obama. Unlike other candidates, Gingrich criticizes only 3 other candidates.

Character: The Punching Bag
Without a doubt character is the punching bag amongst the candidates. Between 40% and 47% of all negative campaign statements by all three candidates refer to character. Romney is the one candidate who receives attacks on other issues, mostly Healthcare by Santorum. Santorum dedicates 14% of his negativity to the Healthcare issue, which is often coupled with his attack on Romney as a flip-flopper. Meanwhile, Gingrich concentrates almost exclusively on campaign issues rather than any political agenda.

Romney negative statements confirm his current strategy of running against Obama for the Presidency by focusing on the Economy issue. The good news for Romney is that Obama’s campaign tacitly acknowledges him as the contender to beat by dedicating 82% of their negative statements toward him.

While Gingrich and Santorum have been pushing a negative campaign against Romney, Romney has been mostly focusing his negative campaign against Obama. This clearly demonstrates how Gingrich and Santorum are running for the nomination while Romney is running for the Presidency.