Thursday, November 6, 2008

Impact of Godless Americans

Before writing any more, I want to make one thing clear: Elizabeth Dole did not lose because of her Godless Americans ad. She trailed in every single poll PPP conducted of her race from August on. But I do think the ad had something to do with her losing by as much as she did.

Here's the breakdown of what happened in the races for President, Senate, and Governor during early voting vs. the results among election day voters:


Early Voting

Election Day



Obama +9

McCain +7



Hagan +13

Hagan +4



Perdue +10

McCrory +3


During early voting Kay Hagan ran only three points ahead of Bev Perdue and four points ahead of Barack Obama. But on election day itself she ran seven points ahead of Perdue and eleven points ahead of Obama.

If you want to quantify the negative impact 'Godless Americans' had on Dole, I think you have it right there. Most early voters had their ballots cast before the whole controversy played itself out, and there wasn't a huge gap between Hagan and the rest of the ticket. But those who voted on election day were able to evaluate Dole's ad and Hagan's response and decide how that was going to impact their votes, and for Hagan to have run so much further ahead of Obama and Perdue on Tuesday compared to the early voting period is an indication to me that a lot of independents, conservative leaning Democrats, and even some Republicans who might have voted for Dole before she ran those ads decided not to.

It may have just made the difference between losing by 3 or 5 and losing by 9 but there is no doubt that running that ad hurt her chances of reelection, and probably damaged her legacy in the process. Not the most graceful way to end a long career of public service.

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