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August 13, 2004
Swift Vet Ad Makes Strong Inroads Among Independents: Study

An independent analysis of the reaction of independent voters from the Swiftvet television ads has been completed by Muhlenberg College and HCD Research and the results posted here. The study group consisted of 371 independent voters who self-described their political leanings thusly:

Conservative: 4.31 %
Somewhat conservative: 12.67%
Moderate: 42.32%
Somewhat liberal: 16.98%
Liberal: 4.31%
Unsure: 19.41%

As people can see, the moderates in the middle plus the "unsure" dominate the mix, but the outliers seem tilted a bit towards liberals. More on that later.

I won't get into the entire methodology -- after all, the report is on line -- but the analysis is pretty thorough. Analysis is given on interest and credibility on a moment-to-moment basis throughout the commercial, and both rise continuously as the Swiftvets speak. But the Kerry camp has to be concerned with the overall analysis of the commercial's impact on independents:

According to AdverTest real-time tracking data, Independents showed strong belief in the Swift Boat ad. Furthermore, belief rose as the video progressed, which suggests that the continuous clips of veterans denouncing Kerry each add more credibility to the ad as a whole. (Page 14) ...

Not only did Independent viewers consciously attest to the persuasiveness of the Swift Boat ad, but they also reconsidered intentions to vote for Kerry at startling levels after viewing the video. (Page 15) ...

The researchers did a comparative analysis between the SBVT ad and a Kerry campaign ad, and the Kerry ad fared rather poorly:

In overall persuasiveness, Independents were more convinced by the attacks of the Swift Boat ad than by the supporting message of the Kerry ad. 53.89% of Independent viewers agreed to some extent that the Swift Boat ad was persuasive. Meanwhile, 43.25% felt so about the Kerry ad. Also, the Swift Boat ad managed to outperform the Kerry ad yet again in the intensity with which viewers accepted its message. 15.03% of Swift Boat ad viewers chose the strongest level of agreement with the notion that the ad is persuasive, while only 7.30% of Kerry ad viewers did so. (Page 15)

But here's the worst of the bad news for John Kerry -- all that persuasiveness really does result in independents being persuaded to fall away from Kerry like a Swiftboat running towards the open sea ... away from Cambodia:

Perhaps the most astonishing demonstration of the Swift Boat ads effectiveness, however, is the proportion of potential Kerry voters whose opinions shifted after having watched the ad.

Independents intending to vote for Kerry felt considerably less sure of their choice after watching the Swift Boat ad. Before the ad, 41.94% of Independents intending to vote for Kerry felt that they would definitely vote for him; 37.10% felt most likely to vote for him; 20.97% were leaning towards him; and none were not sure.

These levels of commitment changed markedly after viewing the Swift Boat ad. Independents definitely voting for Kerry dropped to 29.03%. Those most likely to vote for him were relatively unchanged at 33.87%. Those leaning towards Kerry dropped to 9.68%. Finally, Independents not sure of their initial choice of Kerry increased substantially to 27.42%. This substantial change attests to the effectiveness of the Swift Boat ads attacks.

Voters who definitely intended to support Kerry drop by almost 13 points after seeing one 30-second ad, and leaners drop by over half. Kerry lost 23 points from this single advertisement, and the study was done before the collapse of Kerry's Cambodian Christmas myth. Not only that, but this was a left-leaning sample group. In other words, this ad may be political Kryptonite for the Democrats. No wonder they've sicced their lawyers onto every television station in the country who wants to run it!

The summation says it all very clearly: "These results should dismay the Kerry campaign." Using that picture of the Swiftboat officers as a campaign prop may be the biggest blunder in modern Presidential politics, maybe the worst since Gerald Ford liberated Poland in 1976, or Jimmy Carter made his teenage daughter Amy his chief policy advisor in 1980. (Hat tip to reader Xavier)

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 13, 2004 9:18 PM

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» Awww the Swift Boat Vets for Truth Ad hurts the Kerry Campaign, cry me a river! hehe...! from The Pink Flamingo Bar Grill
If you were wondering why the Kerry campaign was threatening lawsuits and in general are in dire panic mode over the Swift Boat Vets for Truth attacks, here is your answer! Captains Quarters Blog has the story on polling data as it relates to the Swift... [Read More]

Tracked on August 14, 2004 12:23 AM



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