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Anti-Obama attack ad finally earns Romney points among independent voters

by | Posted on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012 — 4:57 PM

(Vanderbilt University Creative Services)

(Vanderbilt University Creative Services)

One of Mitt Romney’s latest campaign commercials against President Barack Obama seems to be hitting a nerve among independent voters, data from the Vanderbilt/YouGov Ad Rating Project shows.

John Geer, the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science and leader of the Ad Rating Project (Vanderbilt University)

John Geer, the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science and leader of the Ad Rating Project (Vanderbilt University)

The Vanderbilt/YouGov Ad Rating Project polled a representative sample of 600 Americans, with an over-sample of 200 independent voters. Respondents watched and answered questions on the “Right Choice” ad, which is an attack on Obama concerning welfare and work requirements. The other is called the “America Deserves Better” ad, which is an attack on Obama’s character in connection with an Obama super-PAC ad that used an interview of a man whose spouse died. In the super-PAC ad, the man said he lost his job and health care benefits after his company was closed by Bain Capital, the private-equity firm formerly headed by Romney.

The latest poll shows that the “Right Choice” welfare ad was more memorable than the “America Deserves Better” character ad. And the “America Deserves Better” ad was viewed as more negative. These patterns hold for Democrats, Republicans and independents.

“What is new here is that the ‘America Deserves Better’ ad seems to score points for Romney,” said John Geer, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt and the leader of the Ad Rating Project. “It was the first time among all the ads we have studied where a Romney attack moves down the president’s numbers among pure independents.”

The poll shows that Romney holds an 8-point lead in the vote among pure independents after viewing the “Right Choice” welfare ad. That lead increases to 14 points after viewing the “America Deserves Better” character ad. Geer said that this shift of 6 points hints at a possible effect.

“This development is interesting because conventional wisdom is that Obama cannot be attacked on the personal front because the public likes him. That may still be true, but these data are the first to cast doubt on that assumption,” said Geer.

See the website for The Vanderbilt University/YouGov Ad Rating Project for data on all the ads that have been analyzed so far and to view the ads themselves.

Vanderbilt’s Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, a key sponsor of the project, aims to foster an engaging intellectual environment to explore how political institutions shape political debate, ameliorate conflicts and influence public policy.

Visit Vanderbilt’s 2012 Election Website for more research, experts and news.

Contact:
Amy Wolf, (615) 322-NEWS
amy.wolf@vanderbilt.edu