I know it is one poll, in one week, of a long election. But seeing John McCain gain serious ground on Barack Obama by going with negative (and preposterous) ads makes you really worry about the competency of the citizenry. It's hard to even blame McCain's camp for ratcheting up the nonsense if that is what brings results.
There is an argument that McCain's team is at fault because the public has always been susceptible to these kinds of tricks, but general good faith politics precluded the most juvenile attacks. Even if you accept the dubious premise that these times are different than those gone by, this argument is unconvincing at best.
The fact is that if the public is susceptible to these tactics, the public needs to be accountable for its idiocy. If that means getting more of the same silly ads that everyone currently decries, then so be it. It might also meaning getting whichever candidate has less hesitancy about diving into the gutter. The public might just deserve it.