John Heilemann asserts the usual political wisdom that when the general election begins, politics gets ugly. Romney and Obama have already begun "stark and harsh" attacks on eachother. This kind of aggressive politicking is standard for elections and negative campaigning has shown to be a more effective election strategy. However, negative campaigning may have strong long-term consequences.
Approval ratings for politicians are at all-time lows, and the negative campaigning may be why. Even winning politicians may have their reputations permenantly marred by negative campaigns. It is difficult to imagine how politicians could survive the smear campaigns popular in today's political environment without having low approval ratings. Thus, an important step in remedying popular disapproval may be discouraging negative campaigning.