Thursday, August 12, 2004

Swift Boat Ad Poll

NRO's The Corner and elsewhere are running the results of a poll that claims that the ad attacking Kerry's military service has dented him with undecided voters in battleground states. In particular, 29.9 percent of undecideds in a 2-way race said it made them less likely to vote for Kerry compared to only 11 percent who said it made them more likely. (The full results of the poll are below).

The poll sampled 1000 people, a more than adequate sample size, but to arrive at its conclusion about undecided voters, they had to rely on some VERY small subsamples. First, the poll looked only at those who were aware of the ad. That was about 58 percent, or a sample of about 580 people. That leaves a margin of error of about +/- 4 percent. Among this group, 19.4 said the ad made them more likely to vote for Kerry and 27.1 said less likely. This difference of 7.7 percentage points is just on the line for statistical significance.

Among undecide voters, the results are even more dicey. First, the poll doesn't say how many voters were undecided. Most polls have been showing very few undecided voters--10 to 15 percent. For sake of argument, let's say that in this sample, 15 percent of voters in a two-way race were undecided. That would give a subsample of only 150 undecided voters with a margin of error of about +/- 8 percent. Of these, only about 49 percent were aware of the add, leaving a sample of only 75 for a margin of error of +/- 11 percent. In this group, 29.9 percent said the ad made them less likely to vote for Kerry compared to only 11 percent who said it made them more likely. That difference of 18.9 points is outside of the margin of error.

In a 3-way race, only 38 percent of undecideds were aware of the add. If we again assume 150 undecided voters, that means only 57 were aware of the ad. That gives a margin of error of +/- 13 percent. In this group, 9.5 percent said the add made them more likely to vote for Kerry and 24.1 said less likely. That difference of 14.6 is also within the margin of error.

In summary, there's no statistically significant evidence that this ad has hurt Kerrry.

Contact: Tony Fabrizio

August 11, 2004
Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates

“Swift Boat “controversy” gets Voters’ attention and nicks Kerry”

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates (FMA), a Republican polling and strategic consulting firm based in Alexandria, VA, has just completed their second likely voter survey with interviews conducted ONLY in the 19 battleground states. The battleground states are defined as those in which the Bush and Kerry campaigns have been focusing their paid media efforts throughout the campaign.

Nearly 6 in 10 likely voters claim that they that they recently saw, read or heard something about the TV ad “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” released and began airing in several key battleground states questioning the truthfulness of Senator Kerry’s Vietnam War record. Among those who claimed to have seen, read or heard something about the ad, a majority overall and among undecided voters said it would not impact their vote either way. However to the extent it did impact voting intentions, it was a negative for Sen. Kerry by as much as nearly a 3 to 1 margin.

“Make no mistake -- controversy surrounding potential “dirty laundry” still sells in American politics and this is a sterling example of it. But most surprising is that despite Sen. McCain’s swift and very public repudiation of this ad and the lingering questions on the veracity of the charges, it still ends up being a net negative for Kerry – especially among crucial undecided voters. In a close race where every little bit counts, Kerry can’t afford to sustain too many minor hits like this.” said Tony Fabrizio, who served as chief pollster for Bob Dole’s ’96 Presidential campaign.

“Recently, have you seen, read or heard anything about a TV ad being aired by a group of Vietnam Veterans who question the truthfulness of Sen. John Kerry’s Vietnam War record?”

Overall 2 Way Undecided 3 Way Undecided
Yes 57.6% 48.5% 38.3%
No 35.4 42.1 45.1
DK/Refused 7.0 9.4 16.6

ASKED ONLY OF THOSE AWARE: “And did what you saw, read or heard make you MORE likely or LESS likely to vote for John Kerry for President? If it didn’t impact how you would vote, just say so.”

Overall 2 Way Undecided 3 Way Undecided
More Likely 19.4% 10.9% 9.5%
No Impact 50.8 51.1 56.2
Less Likely 27.1 29.9 24.1
DK/Refused 2.7 8.0 10.3
Net +/- -7.7% -19.0% -14.6%

About the Poll

The telephone survey was conducted in the 19 battleground states in which the Bush and Kerry campaigns have focused their paid media efforts to this point. The sample of 1,000 likely Presidential voters was conducted on August 8-9, 2004 and has a margin of error of +/-3.1% at the 95% confidence interval. Respondent selection was at random within predetermined geographic units to reflect actual electoral vote allotment to each state. The battleground states used for the survey were AR, AZ, CO, FL, IA, LA, ME, MI, MN, MO, NH, NM, NV, OH, OR, PA, WA, WI, WV.

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