The Ineffective Republican Smear Machine
by Todd Beeton, Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 08:13:30 AM EST
There seems to be a theme developing this year -- if the final results end up reflecting the current polling that is. Barack Obama promises a deliverance from the "politics of the past", the "politics of division." He says often that "the American people are smarter than that" and so far his "faith in the American people has been vindicated." We just might be seeing that he's right. Greg Sargent breaks down the latest WSJ/NBC News poll internals:
- Despite months of attacks on Obama's allegedly sinister background and cultural identity, a solid majority of likely voters, 57%, say that Obama has a background and set of values they can identify with, versus only 39% who say he doesn't. Those numbers are virtually identical to McCain's, which are 57%-38%.
- Asked which would concern them more about an Obama presidency, his lack of experience or the possibility that he would raise taxes, 14% cite taxes and 20% cite inexperience. Forty-eight percent -- more than those two combined -- say that "neither is a concern." This, despite weeks of attacks on Obama as a lightweight and empty suit who wants to hike taxes on ordinary plumbers and hockey moms everywhere.
- Despite all the attacks suggesting that Obama harbors a secret and shadowy agenda that he has yet to reveal, a huge majority of 67% say that they know what Obama and Biden would do if elected.
Along the same lines, look what's happened to the North Carolina Senate race in the wake of Elizabeth Dole's "Godless Americans" ad. This is more than simply evidence that the strategy didn't work; according to Public Policy Polling, it is actively backfiring.
Elizabeth Dole's 'Godless Americans' ad has clearly blown up in her face, as Kay Hagan has now expanded her lead to seven points.
The ad may have helped Hagan to get Democrats unified around her, as that's where most of the movement in the last week has come. Where Hagan led only 76-18 within her party a week ago, those numbers have now improved to 83-14. The excess nastiness of the ad may have lost Dole any reputation she might have had as a moderate or bipartisan type, causing her to lose a decent portion of her crossover support.
If Republicans have as bad a night tomorrow as it's looking like they will, the right's misguided reliance on these tactics will be partially responsible. Who could blame them though, this shit has worked in the past (although there was evidence even from 2004 that Bush going negative may have hurt him more than Kerry ultimately.) Will the utter ineffectiveness of the right's patented slash and burn politics in 2008 mark the end of them? I wouldn't go that far but an Obama win would show that even in politics, doing the right thing and doing the politically expedient thing are sometimes the same.