Negative ads leaving undecideds cold

WASHINGTON — If Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama think their ads blasting each other are persuading undecided voters, they’re probably wrong. But negative ads do have an effect, an AP-Knowledge Networks poll suggests, even if it’s just to neutralize the other guy’s attacks.

They can also solidify support — or simply turn voters off to both candidates.

In a new survey, voters were asked to watch two of the presidential candidates’ negative ads, an Obama spot that says McCain would tax health benefits and a McCain ad that claims Obama wants “massive government.” The campaigns have spent millions of dollars on such ads with millions more committed for the last two weeks before Election Day.

On the whole, adwatchers who went into the experiment undecided were unmoved. About 60 percent of so-called “persuadable” voters said the ads made them no more or less likely to vote for McCain or Obama. And about a third said they were less likely to vote for either candidate after watching the ads.

Are this year’s ads fair?

More than half the voters polled believe presidential campaign commercials have been unfair or somewhat unfair. And the more ads they said they had watched, the less fair they found them. People who had seen 10 or fewer ads mostly thought they were fair, 62 percent. But people who had seen 30 or more in the past week said the opposite — 63 percent said most of the ads were unfair.

People who had seen ads by both candidates tended to think Obama’s ads were more fair than McCain’s, 39 percent to 16 percent. That may have helped Obama neutralize McCain’s critical ads.

Among partisans, 39 percent of strong Obama supporters said the ads made them more likely to vote for him, while 29 percent of McCain’s strong supporters said the same for him.

As for poll respondents’ views about what they see on TV, about four of 10 said Obama’s ads mostly attack, while about seven of 10 said that of McCain’s.

Is negative working?

n Most undecided voters, 60 percent, said the two negative ads they watched for a survey did not persuade them to vote for either Sens. John McCain or Barack Obama.

n About a third said the ads made them less likely to vote for either candidate.

AP-Knowledge Networks poll

Talk to us

More in Local News

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Car crashes into Everett apartment, displacing residents

No one was injured in the crash late Friday, according to Everett police.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Most Read