It seems like every few days I see another description about how the current campaign is the nastiest, most negative campaign in history. Follow this link for an example of the kind of thing I'm talking about.
Somehow, I just don't buy it. I've been reading biographies recently of the founding fathers and the campaigns they ran against each other were truly vicious. The election between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson was absolutely brutal. Nothing was off the table in the attacks leveled against those two. Campaigns throughout history have veered from the respectful to the nasty. There's no doubt that we're in a nasty one now. But the worst ever? I kind of doubt it.
So what keeps compelling people to say that this one is the worst? Well, I think it has a lot to do with how fast the news cycle is and how mass our media is. Whereas an attack by Adams on Jefferson would take weeks to distribute throughout the states and even then would be available only in a pamphlet or broadsheet, today's world enables almost instant attacks beamed directly into the homes of millions of people.
The intensity of the meanness this year is not a record by any means. The volume of it may set the new record, though.