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March 7, 2008
Some thoughts on 3 A.M. phone calls to the White House
The 3 a.m. phone call ad by Hillary has inspired some interesting studies. Rasmussen looks into the subject and finds voters prefer that call be answered by McCain, not Obama or Clinton:
42% of all voters said the person they'd most want to answer the phone was John McCain. Among all voters, 25% picked Clinton and another 25% named Obama as the person they'd want in the White House when a foreign policy crisis call arrived.Among Democrats, 46% said they'd like Clinton to take that call while 36% named Obama.Among Republicans, 79% named McCain while neither Democrat reached double digits.Among unaffiliated voters, 39% said McCain would be their top choice to handle such a crisis. Twenty-seven percent (27%) of unaffiliateds said they thought Obama was the best to handle the call while 18% named Clinton.Among men, 51% preferred McCain, 21% Obama, and 19% Clinton. Women were evenly divided-33% for McCain and 30% for each of the Democrats.
Mickey Kaus is intrigued by the fact that the Luntz meters indicated voters didn't like the ad when ,in fact it, turns out voters did find it persuasive.He uses this as an example of why he thinks these instant reaction meters are useless at measuring anything more than the instantaneous visceral reaction to panderings:
The meters measure the voter's visceral reaction to whatever the candidate is saying. If the voter hates abortion, and Candidate A attacks abortion, the meter goes up. If the voter is pro-choice, the meter goes down. What the meter doesn't capture is actual rumination--even fleeting doubts or flashes of confidence. The reaction loop's too short for that. So if something Candidate B says, in the course of defending a right to abortion, actually makes a pro-life voter think twice about the issue, that will happen later, after the meter has moved on (and probably after the meters are locked up and everyone's gone home). Indeed, the voter's immediate reaction to a candidate who prompts reconsideration of a long-held position may be more negative than usual, reflecting the voter's annoyance at being challenged and forced to think. ....In short, the meters are good at measuring effective pandering, not at measuring effective persuasion. And sometimes candidates do persuade! ... In the case of the "3 A.M." ad, the MediaCurves "undecided" voters were viscerally turned off when they learned it was an ad for Hillary. Their dial-graphs plummet downwards. But a lot of "undecideds" seem to have been affected, non-viscerally, in a different way later.