Bush ads effective

Dan Balz:

"Since the end of the Democratic primaries, attacks on John F. Kerry by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, backed by millions of dollars in negative ads, have wiped out the narrow lead Kerry enjoyed at the beginning of the month and damaged his public image.

"The senator from Massachusetts emerged from the primaries unscathed but still little known, a condition Bush's team set about to change with an aggressive plan to define the senator before he could define himself. A month later, more voters see Kerry as 'too liberal,' and a solid majority says he is someone who has changed his positions on issues for political reasons -- both charges leveled by the Bush campaign's daily attacks through ads and public statements.

...

"The Bush campaign has sought to change the political dynamics after two months of bad news and unified Democratic attacks. 'For six months, it was a one-way conversation, and then you had the final five or six weeks when Kerry was winning primaries that improved his image,' said Bush senior strategist Matthew Dowd. 'Right after March 3, a dialogue started about who is or who isn't John Kerry, and the president started advocating for himself. I think we're better positioned from that and Senator Kerry is worse positioned.'

"Bush's overall approval rating moved up to 53 percent in the CNN-USA Today-Gallup Poll, after dipping to 49 percent a month ago. Meanwhile, his favorable/unfavorable ratings, which strategists watch closely as leading indicators of voters' attitudes, held steady at about 57 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable. Kerry's favorable dipped from 60 percent to 53 percent over the past month, and his unfavorable rating rose from 26 percent to 36 percent."

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