Tory attack ads find audience, but could backfire: poll - Metro US

Tory attack ads find audience, but could backfire: poll

OTTAWA – The Conservative attack ads against Michael Ignatieff, which began on the Internet and then moved to TV, may be hurting the Tories more than the Liberal leader, a new poll suggests.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll found that about half the respondents said the ads had no impact on their impression of the Liberal leader, with 30 per cent reporting a negative effect on their attitude toward him.

However, just over half of the respondents said the ads have a negative effect on their feelings about Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Tories.

“The effect seems to cut both ways,” said Jeff Walker, senior vice-president of Harris-Decima. “There is evidence that these ads are having a negative effect on Mr. Ignatieff, but an even greater negative effect on Prime Minister Harper.”

He said it’s clear the Tories are taking a risk with the ads. While attacks seemed to work well last year against Stephane Dion, the Conservatives must gamble that the negative hit on Ignatieff will outweigh the impact on them.

“It all depends on the circumstances as to whether it will work,” Walker said.

“The two key circumstances are, No. 1, Ignatieff probably isn’t the same as Dion, they probably don’t quite have as much to attack about.

“The second thing is that they waited a fair amount of time from the time Ignatieff came on as leader to start this campaign. It’s still not clear how those two elements will weigh out.”

Much also depends on how Ignatieff responds.

“He’s decided to take a high-road approach to dealing with it and it will be interesting to see if that’s the right approach.”

Walker said, though, that the poll findings suggests that there is less political apathy out there than some suspect.

“People are paying attention, despite the fact that it’s the summertime and that some people saying people are very disengaged,” he said. “When you have 30 per cent of Canadians saying they’ve seen these ads within just a few days of them being launched, that says that a number of people still pay attention to politics in Canada.”

The poll questioned just over 1,000 people in an omnibus phone survey conducted May 14-17. It is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

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