How Effective Really Are The Swifties?
(Graphic Courtesy of PollingReport.com)
For all of the Beltway talk and right-wing wet dreams about how damaging the Swifties have been to John Kerryís campaign, one major fact needs to be put forward. The Annenberg School National Election Survey at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a large-sample poll during the first week of the smear campaign, when the Swifties had the airways all to themselves before the Kerry campaign began the counterattack last week. The results of that survey, released today, show that although many voters had heard of the smear campaign and commercials, and although many voters thought the ads somewhat believable, three-fifths of those polled say that Kerry deserved his medals. Only a fifth thought he didnít.
We know that at least 40 percent of voters plan to vote against Kerry no matter what in November, yet half that number still think he deserved his medals. More than half of those who saw the ad during that first uncontested week of coverage still feel that Kerry deserved his medals. Most importantly for the election, three-fifths of Independents feel he deserved his medals, and only one-fifth feel he didnít.
So what we have here is an issue that is all hot air and no real electoral impact. It is in the GOPís interest to keep this issue as hot as possible, but the truth is that after one week where the Swifties had the airways and the Mighty Wurlitzer all to themselves before the Kerry pushback, the best they could do was convince only one-fifth of those polled that Kerry didnít deserve his medals, and these people already believed that Kerry was the anti-Christ anyway.
Remember this poll the next time you see a member of the Beltway media tell you how important this nonissue is to the campaign.
Assume you are the Kerry people and you now see the White House still not condemning these ads, but trying to weasel out of danger with a half-assed call for all 527's to stop their ads. You know that the Swifties are running the next set of ads on Kerry's Vietnam testimony, and you have your own ads in the hopper already. Do you unleash the dogs on Bush's disappearance in Alabama?