Friday, November 05, 2010

1984 Senate race's see-saw polling

Last week's column about negative campaign ads in North Carolina mentioned some ugliness in the 1984 U.S. Senate campaign between Gov. Jim Hunt and U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms. Among the topics were the Hunt campaign's tough ad on Helms' friend Roberto D'Aubuisson in El Salvador, Helms' "White Hands" ad and that episode when quirky newspaper editor Bob Windsor printed unsubstantiated rumors about Hunt, which Windsor later retracted and apologized for.

Former Helms strategist Carter Wrenn, whose latest success is Renee Ellmers' apparent upset win of 2nd Congressional District U.S. Rep. Bobby Etheridge (there's to be a recount, evidently), sent an e-mail with some interesting information about those 1984 events.

"I read your column 'First in Fights: NC's scurrilous campaign ads,' and here's a footnote to history: We polled just before Bob Windsor called Jim Hunt gay, and Jesse was even with Hunt (for the first time). We polled again after and Jesse trailed Hunt by ten points. (Windsor's smear didn't tarnish Hunt's image, it hurt Jesse.) Then Hunt put on his 'dead bodies' ad and we polled again and Jesse was even."

1 comment:

george said...

I thank Carter Wrenn for telling us that (about how badly the voters reacted to what they perceived as "negative campaigning"), but that just proves that the voters, back then anyway, were far stupider than anyone realized. The voters may have reacted the SAME way to these two claims, but the two claims had a very important DIFFERENCE:
The claim that Jim Hunt was gay was FALSE. The claim that Roberto D'Aubuisson was a death-squad leader was TRUE.

If this difference didn't appear to MAKE much difference to the voters, then that's the voters' problem, not anybody else's. Except, of course, that the voters are US.
It's almost like the voters are saying, "I LOVE it when you lie to me! Lie to me some more!"