Over at the Washington Post they note that it looks like a “McCain Wins Debate” ad and quote accidently leaked before the… you know… debate actually happens.
While I don’t plan on voting for him, criticizing preparing ads and responses ahead of time would be silly. It’s only prudent since there really isn’t time to create this content after the fact in our obsessive 24 hour news cycle driven society. What can be criticized is this could show a little lack of organization and discipline.
If I were the Democratic equivalent of Karl Rove I might drop a few of these things on my own. Through front companies, of course. Sure, it would eventually be repudiated, but the initial damage will be done. Heck, that’s not even all that creative- aside from the ubiquitous YouTube ads and testimonials, there are all sorts of new attack vectors thanks to the Internet age. We already see plenty of this going on through email campaigns, which seem even more effective than the push polling of Bush II vs. McCain eight years ago.
One reason this garbage is so effective? Most people have intense confirmation bias. As Adam posted recently, study after study shows we are inclined to believe that which aligns with our existing beliefs. On top of that, functional MRI studies have shown that political discussions trigger the same parts of the brain as religion- in other words, faith, and sections of our mind that are core to our identity.
It is far easier to manipulate someone into believing what they want to believe than introducing contradictory information. The net is fracking perfect for this.