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Detecting the Effects of Deceptive Presidential Advertisements in the Spring of 2004



Long before the political conventions of 2004, the Kerry and Bush campaigns and their surrogates were laying the groundwork for the fall campaign with heavy ad buys. Some of the assertions made on each side were misleading. Here we explore three misleading claims made on each side in the weeks following the effective end of the 2004 primary season and ask, Did they work? If so, with whom? Results from the National Annenberg Election Survey show that some of these misleading claims about George W. Bush and John Kerry were believed by a majority of citizens. Democrats were more likely to believe deceptive claims about Bush, whereas Republicans were more likely to embrace deceptive claims about Kerry. The claim that “George W. Bush favors sending American jobs overseas” gained traction in battleground states, even when demographic variables and party identification were taken into consideration.