Campaign Ads Get Ugly before Midterms

With just five weeks to go until the midterm elections, candidates are taking the gloves off and hitting the airwaves with ads they hope will deliver a knockout punch to their opponents. There are negative ads every campaign season, but as CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes reports, there's something about these ads that sets them apart.

With the political winds blowing against them, Democrats aren't just going negative. They're getting personal, by targeting their opponents' private spending, tax problems and even religious beliefs.

In a new ad, Florida Democrat Allan Grayson likens his opponent to the Taliban, because he believes wives should be subservient to husbands.

"Taliban Dan Webster," says Grayson's ad. "Hands off our bodies."

"I think that this will actually be the most negative ad season ever," said Evan Tracey, who has been tracking political ads for 14 years.

"Incumbents are not spending a lot of time going over their bio," said Tracey. "They're going straight at their opponents. You take the Reid race in Nevada as a classic example."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calls his opponent extreme in three ads.

"That's Sharron Angle," says one ad, "extreme ideas that will make things worse."

Angle struck back with her own mocking ad.

"It may be the most tragic love story of our time: Pelosi, Obama and Harry Reid," says Angle's ad.

You don't end up liking anyone when you watch some of these ads. There's actually some design to them being so nasty.

That's because negative ads turn off voters and depress turnout, which makes it easier for campaigns to figure out just how many voters they need to get to the polls.

All that negativity makes the rare lighthearted ad stand out.

"I'm John Hickenlooper," says the Denver mayor in his ad while showering. "I guess I'm not a very good politician if I can't stand negative ads. Every time I see one, I want to take a shower."

Hickenlooper will have to take a lot of showers this election season. It's estimated politicians and outside groups will spend close to $3 billion on ads.

Over the next five weeks, 70 percent of that spending will take place, making all those negative ads difficult to avoid.