A door hanger distributed to 100,000 black households in Missouri by the liberal group America Coming Together implies that Republicans want to oppress blacks just as segregationists did 40 years ago.
"This is what they used to do to keep us from voting," the ACT leaflet says alongside the decades-old image of a black man being assaulted with water from a fire hose.
"This is how Republicans keep African-Americans from voting now," the other side of the leaflet says, above a list of recent voting controversies.
And American voters seem to be eating up the mudslinging.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Web site Vid.Vote.org, run by a group called Texans for Truth, posted a video purporting to show George W. Bush, as governor of Texas, making an obscene gesture. Within 24 hours, according to computer records provided by the organization, the video file had been downloaded more than a million times.
To the victor will go the spoils. But there is a catch, says Jamieson.
"When you have a high level of attack and a high level of deception, it makes it much harder for the person who wins ultimately to govern," she said.
Jack Date, Brooke Brower and Maria Tio contributed to this report.