The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Swift Boat Veterans Against Insomnia: why no Bush condemnation?

Which is more ludicrous? The oxymoronic Swift Boat Veterans for Truth who can't get their stories straight or the Dems who grind on about the business long after anyone who is interested (a fairly select number, I'd hypothesise) are well aware of the arguments (or lack of one, as the case may be) on both sides?

If media blatherers on either side had any serious concern about impressions created on the swing voter, they would surely have moved on. Yet, one finds MoveOn itself thrashing that defunct quadruped once again in a 30 second spot.

Quick question: has there been any polling on the effect of the SBVFT allegations on voters' views? On salience or recognition? My guess is that is a case of hack shall speak unto hack - just as 350 votes for higher taxes or foreign leaders would not flag up past campaign donnybrooks in the minds of a large percentage of voters, I'm thinking.

No doubt, the campaigns would say that the likes of the SBVFT claims work subliminally; and only constant repetition of points against can effectively counter the claims. But what's the research on that?

My recollection is that, after Bush ran his first set of negative spots against Kerry in some states, the polling showed that Bush had moved ahead - but only in the states where the ads hadn't been shown. And that there is a CW that spots in generally don't move opinion.

Awful thought: that the progress of the campaigns is, in fact, a random walk, and that no factor (or combination thereof) can be shown, at the 95% level, to have any discernable effect on the result. And that the guys who make millions through masterminding such insults to the voters' intelligence are not frightfully keen for that little meme to gain currency.

However, our friends at The Note in their opening monologue raise an interesting question today:
Does anybody know why President Bush continues to refuse to condemn the CONTENT of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth commercial?

Call it Sister Souljah or Mutt and Jeff - but isn't it Play#1 in the book for the candidate to make for the moral high ground against his overzealous supporters?

(They have other questions, the last of which is:
Are the political reporters at the remaining serious news organizations in America ready to do their jobs for a few more months in a way that does the nation proud, or are we going to cede this to Drudge?

Wow, that stings!)


Reading further on in today's Note, I find my question answered: it links a Deborah Orin piece in the New York Post today which highlights polling evidence that the SBVFT ads have been effective:
The ad planted doubts in the minds of 27 percent of independent voters who planned to vote for Kerry or leaned pro-Kerry. After seeing it, they were no longer sure they'd back him, the study found.

You may be suspecting that, from a Murdoch rag, you may not entirely be getting the straight dope. And that this study is as phoney as the original ad.

The guy in charge was
Professor Chris Borick of Muhlenberg College, who did the ad study with the firm HCD Research.

(Actually, with all that great factchecking at the Post, they spelled his name Borrick...)

This was not a standard poll:
The Swift Vets study used 1,275 participants, including 371 independents, who watched ads and registered their reaction at every second using technology normally used to rate product ads. Half viewed the Swift Vets ad and the other half saw a pro-Kerry ad based on his convention speech, which was rated less persuasive.

According to the piece,
HCD chief Glenn Kessler,
said his company was not paid for the research; and that Kessler
leans Democratic.

What exactly is HCD, you're asking. According to the site about page, it is
a marketing research and medical information
company headquartered in Flemington, NJ.

(Medical information? Google says no Karen Ryan connection...)

The joint-venture has its own site, the snazzily named at which a summary of the study (PDF) is available.

My guess is that HCD's angle in all of this is some sort of demonstration of their techniques to potential commercial customers.

Having found my question answered, I suppose I really should reach the document...

  1. No repeat of the Scarlet Pimpernel nonsense with HHS video news release star Karen Ryan (search for several pieces here).

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