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If MoveOn was trying to influence moderate voters, it failed
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We've heard from the Oliver Willis' of the world who've claimed that in reality the MoveOn "General Betrayus" ad was a big success and money just poured into the organization in the aftermath.

Well, if money was the object of the ad, then yes, Oliver is correct. Big success.

But I suspect the ad was run to influence people, not make money. And if that is the case, and I suspect it was, then it failed miserably:
Twenty-three percent (23%) of Americans approve of an ad run in the New York Times “that referred to General Petraeus as General Betray Us.” A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 58% disapproved. Those figures include 12% who Strongly Approve and 42% who Strongly Disapprove.

Self-identified liberals were evenly divided—45% approve and 39% disapprove. However, only 19% of moderate voters approve while 62% disapprove.
Everyone who follows politics understands that the battle for electoral wins is the battle for moderate voters. They are the swing voters. They are the voters who will put your party in Congress and the White House. And by a vast majority they were disapproving of both the ad and the approach (character assassination) of MoveOn.org.

We've also heard from those who say this is a non-event with little or no impact.
Forty-seven percent (47%) of all adults say that “stunts like the MoveOn.org ad” hurt the cause they believe in. Only 12% believe they help the cause while 17% say there is no impact.
Those polled disagree. And you can rest assured that it will become regular fodder for the general election.

Even Hollywood, which was instrumental in helping MoveOn stand up its organization years ago found the ad's impact to be negative:
"Most people saw it as a mistake that really hurt progressive candidates," said one Hollywood insider, who asked not to be named because he continues to be involved in fundraising efforts. "We just handed the Republicans a gift. It's like MoveOn has become tone-deaf. I think people will be more cautious and careful about what they do with MoveOn in the future."

[...]

Opposing the war is one thing, but becoming too shrill is something else entirely. That's the lesson Hollywood took from Vietnam: You could oppose the war as a policy, but you couldn't appear to oppose the troops charged with carrying the fight.
A lesson MoveOn has ignored and is now paying for.

Another myth is that which claims no one was paying attention:
Just 23% said they followed stories of the ad Very Closely while another 23% said they were following it Very Closely. Overall, 49% were not paying much attention.
Apparently a majority were. And, as mentioned, those who weren't will get many opportunities to hear about the stunt over the upcoming months.

As for MoveOn.org as an organization, a plurality had an unfavorable opinion of the organization before the ad ran:
Twenty-three percent (23%) of American adults have a favorable opinion of MoveOn.org while 39% have an unfavorable opinion. Thirty-eight percent (38%) don’t know enough to have an opinion one way or the other. Survey respondents were asked their opinion of MoveOn.org before the New York Times ad was described.
My guess is that unfavorable number is now even higher.

Add on to all of that the fact that the ad pretty well killed any Democratic chances of attracting wavering Congressional Republicans to their side on the Iraq war, and it's a real coup for MoveOn. I'm sure they're quite proud.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
But, one has to wonder why 39% of liberals disapproved...

Here is one reason, not that they disagreed with what the ad said, they just thought running it was a bad idea.

http://www.openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=1467
Matt Stoller: You recently called the Moveon ad criticizing Petraeus a ’big mistake’. Why is it a big mistake?

Wes Clark: Because it distracted attention from focusing on the failures of the policy and let the other side play a game of personal attack again and you know sort of outrage at that. That’s a mistake. It distracted us from the dialogue we needed.

Matt Stoller: So your argument is...

Wes Clark: It gave something that Republicans could all agree on.

MS: So your argument is not that it was inaccurate in any way.

Wes Clark: No, I’d say it was a mistake tactically. But I also, I know Dave Petraeus, and he’s not gonna say something he thinks is incorrect, he’s not gonna lie, but the truth is relative, it’s relative to where you sit and to what your responsibilities are.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
I’d say it was a mistake tactically. But I also, I know Dave Petraeus, and he’s not gonna say something he thinks is incorrect, he’s not gonna lie, but the truth is relative, it’s relative to where you sit and to what your responsibilities are.
This assessment by Wes Clark seems spot-on to me. Does anyone doubt that the "reality" in Iraq is very much in the eye of the beholder, and that one’s position and motivation affects the view?
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
I would also like someone to start pointing out that failing to fund the troops means you don’t support them, by definition.
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
(Clark) I know Dave Petraeus, and he’s not gonna say something he thinks is incorrect, he’s not gonna lie, but the truth is relative, it’s relative to where you sit and to what your responsibilities are.
So Gen Petraeus is not a liar but none of what he said is the truth??

What a backhanded slap. "Nice guy but ..."

Wes Clark either, (a) really needs to learn how to communicate, or (b) stop being a weasel.

Not sure which at this moment.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
No, the truth is not relative.

The analysis and interpretation of facts, and the course of action which follows can differ, but the facts should be the facts.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
No, the truth is not relative. The analysis and interpretation of facts, and the course of action which follows can differ, but the facts should be the facts.
Yes, the facts should be be the facts. There is undoubtedly an objective reality in Iraq (though it is fluid and varies considerably even at the macro level). But we can only know it from those who report to us. The reality is that people generally see what they want to see and emphasize what they are motivated to so emphasize, etc. That’s not a knock on Gen Petraeus; it is a fact of human nature. Not to mention, Petraeus is clearly engaged in public relations for the White House effort in Iraq, which places even more pressure on him. (Do you think he might have received a phone call after testifying that he didn’t know whether the Iraq War was making the country safer?) Again, that may well be part of his job, but it still matters. Not to mention that Petraeus is the architect and the executor of the current plan; he is a military man tasked with a mission by the president; he is the commander of combat forces on the ground. These facts undoubtedly impact his view. It would be naieve to think otherwise.

 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
MoveOn’s ad wasn’t about influencing moderates. It was about being provocative and doing their little part to end the war. You’re living in a dream world if you seriously think one MoveOn ad was going to weaken or cement popular and political opinions on Iraq.

More interesting was after the Petraeus testimony and a primetime speech by the president to the nation, the vast majority of public opinion was unchanged and want a quick end to the war. What’s more important: that an interest group didn’t move public opinion or that the president and a general couldn’t?

I like MoveOn and all, but even I think President Bush is more important.
 
Written By: Oliver Willis
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
(Do you think he might have received a phone call after testifying that he didn’t know whether the Iraq War was making the country safer?)
Update your narrative, he clarified his remarks later to Senator Bayh.
the White House effort in Iraq
Here-in lies the greatest problem. It is OUR effort in Iraq.
But we can only know it from those who report to us.
And there are several sources that are reporting it. If you compare one set of numbers to another set of numbers, you’ll find that they are consistently skewed. AP vs ICC vs Military vs others. While the actual numbers vary between them, most seem to be saying the same thing about trends.

And the fact is, the ad came out before the testimony.

Public opinion polls not showing much movement in the last 2 weeks isn’t all that important. We’ve still yet to see any movement in Congress, which is the only voting right now that matters.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
(Do you think he might have received a phone call after testifying that he didn’t know whether the Iraq War was making the country safer?)
Update your narrative, he clarified his remarks later to Senator Bayh.
Oh, please. Petraeus updated his testimony after the break. Do you seriously contend that nobody mentioned to him that he had gone off-message?
the White House effort in Iraq
Here-in lies the greatest problem. It is OUR effort in Iraq.
Not true, unfortunately. Most unfortunately. Bush listens to no one but those who agree with him. This is Bush’s war, not America’s war. It certainly is not MY war. I hope for the best for the sake of the country and the soldiers. Other than that, this war belongs to the Bush Administration and those who choose to embrace its policy.
And there are several sources that are reporting it.
Reporting what? Even the civilian casualty figures are suspect. See today’s WP front page:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/24/AR2007092401929.html?hpid=topnews

More importantly — much more importantly — no one can report about what really matters: 1) Is the Iraq War worth the cost? 2) Is the Iraq War making the United States safer?
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
1) Is the Iraq War worth the cost? 2) Is the Iraq War making the United States safer?
These are only ever going to be OPINIONS, not FACT.

Was WW II worth the cost??
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
MoveOn’s ad wasn’t about influencing moderates. It was about being provocative and doing their little part to end the war.
Ah, but influencing moderates is the way to end the war.

MoveOn appears to have moved into an echo chamber. If leftists are sending them money, that’s good—for the right. It helps the right when the left wastes money on self destructive projects.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Was WW II worth the cost??
World Wat II? Yes. World War I? Yes. Vietnam? No. Iraq? I seriously doubt it, though time will tell.
These are only ever going to be OPINIONS, not FACT.
Such a neat dividing line exists only in fiction.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
WWI - why, what was so inherently terrible about the Austrio-Germans in WWI other than the standard propaganda messages a’la "the huns"?
What, we needed to defend the French Empire from the German/Austrian Empires?
We were worried about the future of Serbian Nationalism?
We were worried the Kaiser was going to stomp the Hanovarian empire of Victoria’s son King George Wettin of Hanover/Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (House of Windsor)?
Eh?

Other than the German plan to engage Mexico to attack us (dummies) it really was someone else’s war.
Criminy most of them were cousins. If the Germans hadn’t been so stupid we probably wouldn’t have gotten involved at all.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
WWI
Yes, after I posted that I reconsidered. It would very difficult to say that WWI was worth the cost to anyone, including —especially — the primary combatants themselves.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
David, you are stating your own opinions on those issues. There are several scholars out there who could make the case that they were not in fact worth the cost.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
David, you are stating your own opinions on those issues.
Keith, you are stating the obvious in stating that I am stating my opinions. And in my opinion, World War II was worth the cost to the United States, while Vietnam was not. In between, there are closer calls, like WWI. That, indeed, is my opinion and not a fact. However, it is a fact that it is my opinion.

I am very afraid that Iraq will fall well to the south of Vietnam when history renders its post-hac cost-benefit analysis. I certainly could be wrong. We’ll see. Undoubtedly, there will be some disagreement about the assessment. Presumably, though, the various assessments will be based upon facts (at least the ones worth discussing). To a large extent, then, informed opinion is based upon facts and the line between facts and opinions is often obscure. For instance, when Gen Petraeus "clarified" his testimony to state that the Iraq War was indeed making the U.S. safer, he was merely offering his opinion. But people seemed to care a great deal. The overarching questions concerning the Iraq War are as I stated: 1) Is it worth the cost? 2) Will it make us safer? Call the answers "facts" or "opinions." It really makes no difference. Just semantics.

Anyhow, all that gibberish aside, I still don’t see what is objectionable about what Clark said.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
Add on to all of that the fact that the ad pretty well killed any Democratic chances of attracting wavering Congressional Republicans to their side on the Iraq war, and it’s a real coup for MoveOn. I’m sure they’re quite proud.
Actually, they have mave wanted that sort of reaction, thinking it will help them next November.
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
Heh... You’re the one that threw out:
More importantly — much more importantly — no one can report about what really matters: 1) Is the Iraq War worth the cost? 2) Is the Iraq War making the United States safer?
Only time will tell on either of those questions.

And it seems to me there are plenty of editorials which attempt to answer this question. But we ought not to expect it as hard news.

I don’t have a problem with what Wes Clark stated, it’s his opinion though.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
David Obey compares the MoveOn ad to McCarthyism. And as if on cue, Kos is making a list of un-Americans to persecute.

How true to form.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Unscientific, and a selection bias, but Time magazine readers who write to the editor were 9-1 of the opinion that the surge is failing and we need to find a way to end our involvement (this week’s issue, reported on the letters page). Petraeus doesn’t seem to have convinced people.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Yet, according to these poll...
In survey results released Wednesday by the Gallup polling organization, 54 percent of respondents said they believe Petreaus’ plan for removing troops is the right pace or too quick, while only 33 percent view the withdrawal as moving too slowly. Also, 52 percent of those polled said the plan withdraws the right amount or too many troops, while 36 percent said it removes too few troops.
and...
a higher percentage of respondents now view the top U.S. military commander in Iraq favorably (61 percent) than before his testimony (52 percent), while only 22 percent view him unfavorably.

The Gallup survey comes one day after the Pew Research Center released its latest findings that gave Petraeus high marks for his integrity and proposals.

In that poll, 57 percent of Americans who read or heard about Petraeus’ testimony approved of his recommendations for Iraq, while only 28 percent of respondents said they disapprove. A majority of those surveyed (51 percent) also said they believe he presented the situation as it really is.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Petraeus doesn’t seem to have convinced people.
Wow. Can I come back with a survey of letter writers to a different organization and claim he HAS convinced people?

Why would you even bother to make this statement after initially admitting there is a selection bias?
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
BTW, this is exactly why I started asking you about your wager from May a few days earlier than Oct 1:
A small non-monetary wager JWG. It’s now May 22nd and we had this exchange on Q&O blog comment 6053. On October 1 we’ll look at the situation in Iraq...If the surge is continuing and there is little no move to internationalize in the manner described, I’ll admit you are right and I read the article with bias. In a little over four months we should know how credible the source is.
You repeatedly believe that you are more free from bias than others because you read from a variety of sources (but we don’t, right?). Yet your reliance on many of these sources has repeatedly led you astray. You just don’t like admitting it.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
You could have at least linked to it... :D
http://www.qando.net/details.aspx?Entry=6053

Some other tid-bits from the linked to article, published in May...
Although sectarian killings have fallen in Baghdad since the surge began in February, the level of violence across the country remains broadly unchanged. But the White House is fiercely resisting calls from Democrats and some Republicans to scrap the operation and set a timetable for a troop withdrawal.

The former official, who is familiar with administration thinking, predicted Mr Bush would instead ask Congress to agree a six-month extension of the surge after Gen Petraeus presented his "progress report" in early September.
Overall, the particular article is hit or miss.

What I would like to know, the American effort is often described as culturally mis-guided, how is an international effort going to be less culturally mis-guided??
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com

 
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