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Negative Numbers
July 1, 2004
By Aden Nak

Those of you that have visited George W. Bush's website (as many of us did last week concerning the "Coalition of the Wild-Eyed" ad spot) may have noticed that the site maintains a "blog", although it is unclear to me exactly whose blog it's supposed to be.

Truth be told, it's a blog posing as a news page posing as a propaganda listing, but I'm willing to over look that because what I found there was so interesting.

On June 13th, 2004, there was an entry about positive and negative supporters in the 2004 election. The entry contained a chart as well as a reference to a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center.

Now, while it's interesting to note that I could not find the information contained in Bush's chart anywhere in the Pew poll or its extended materials, what Bush's poll shows is that he'll be in some serious trouble come Novenber 2nd.

The gist of the poll is that the people that support Bush do so because they actually approve of Bush, while the people that support Kerry do so not because they like Kerry, but because they hate Bush and Kerry is the alternative. Now granted, that doesn't sound too flattering to John Kerry. And, well, it isn't. But whether Kerry likes it or not, it's actually really good news.

This election year is already shaping up to be one of the most "negative" in terms of campaigns and political advertisements. By some estimations, it already is the most negative presidential campaign in history. The general idea behind a negative campaign is to make the opposing candidate seem very unattractive, so that your own candidate will get votes by default.

Well, the majority of Kerry supporters already feel that way about the current President. So the odds of them being swayed by a negative advertisement are low. On the other hand, the majority of Bush's supporters are planning to vote for Bush not because of some inherent distrust of John Kerry, but because they still have faith in George W. Bush.

If that faith is shattered (the usual result of an effective negative campaign), this army of disillusioned Bush supporters will likely vote for John Kerry.

Of course, the opposite is true for George W. Bush. If he can run a truly effective positive campaign, and convince the American people that he has not led them astray, he could win back a great many votes.

Thankfully, positive campaigns are not Bush's strong suit. His Mad Scientist of Politics, Karl Rove, is absolutely deadly when he is in his own element. But positive, upbeat messages aren't really Rove's area of expertise.

There's evidence that this is already taking place. Bush and his supporters have spent an unprecedented amount of cash on negative campaigning so far in this election, and the polls just honestly don't reflect the spending. Even the Pew poll that Bush's numbers supposedly come from show the two candidates as being in a dead heat.

It's going to be an ugly campaign. I think everyone knew that going in. But the truth is that the ugliness hurts Bush more than it does Kerry. So as far as these negative campaign ads go, from both sides of the fence... Bring 'em on!

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