‘Politics of Parsing’ Web ad a hit, survey says

Former Sen. John Edwards’s (D-N.C.) attempt to label Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as a parser was a hit across the board, according to a survey of political insiders by Wilson Research Strategies.

Edwards’s Web video, titled “The Politics of Parsing,” features clips of Clinton saying apparently contradictory things at a presidential debate in Philadelphia in late October.


As might be expected, Republicans scored it highest — a 7.9 on a scale of zero to 10. But Democrats and independents both scored it 6.6 or higher, which is well above the average for the survey.

Still, respondents said Edwards faces a do-or-die test in Iowa against the front-running Clinton. In fact, a majority said Edwards, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) and Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaJudge orders Georgia officials to provide backup paper poll books ahead of election Supreme Court fight should drive Democrats and help Biden Michelle Obama says even former first families can get on each other's nerves during quarantine MORE (D-Ill.) all must win Iowa in order to have a chance at their party’s nomination.

Slightly more than half said Obama needs a win in the first contest, while more than three-fourths said Edwards and Richardson do.

“Insiders believe that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense: Government funding bill butts up against deadline | Pentagon reports eighth military COVID-19 death | Trump, Pentagon collide over anti-diversity training push Voters split on whether Trump, Biden will win first debate: poll New Monmouth poll finds Biden with 6-point lead MORE is the only Democratic candidate that can afford to lose Iowa and still capture the nomination,” said Wilson Research political director Tyler Harber. “This speaks volumes of her perceived strength inside the Beltway.”

At the same time, Clinton’s status as the presumptive nominee appeared to take a hit in the aftermath of the Oct. 30 Philadelphia debate, as nearly half of respondents said the period caused her trouble.

In the more muddled Republican contest, survey subjects were largely unsure about what the early contests mean to both former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In one clear result, 63 percent said Giuliani can’t win the nomination without winning at least one of six contests before the Feb. 5 “national primary.”

Giuliani polls as the front-runner nationally but doesn’t fare as well in the early states.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) continues to rate poorly among insiders, with only 13 percent rating his campaign “excellent” or “good,” while 35 percent labeled it “fair” and 49 percent called it “poor.”

His first television ads, however, earned plaudits. A 60-second Iowa spot entitled “Consistent Conservative,” which shows Thompson in a café laying out his conservative principles, scored a 7.0 among Republicans, including 7.3 for its appeal. The ad has also run nationally on cable.

“Playing on his strengths of Southern charm and small-town values,” Harber said, the ad “effectively connects with the universe of voters critical to his success in the primary.”

Conversely, Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-Texas) first ads in New Hampshire scored poorly among GOP insiders, while Democrats approved.

In the ad, Paul talks briefly about bringing all the troops home from Iraq and mostly about cutting the budget.

Republicans scored it a 4.8, while Democrats scored it a 5.5.

Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump, GOP aim to complete reshaping of federal judiciary Supreme Court fight should drive Democrats and help Biden Harris on SCOTUS fight: Ginsburg's legacy 'at stake' MORE’s (R-Ky.) early ads in his reelection campaign scored a solid 6.0 among Republicans and 5.0 among Democrats. The ads focus on McConnell’s ability to deliver for his state as Senate minority leader.

An anti-McConnell MoveOn.org ad earned decent marks among Democrats but fared poorly overall. Democrats have not yet recruited a candidate against McConnell.

Another ad from Texas Democratic congressional candidate Dan Grant features flag-draped coffins and calls for an end to the Iraq war. Despite its generally taboo imagery, the ad scored well among Democrats, garnering a 6.7.

Republicans gave it shoddy marks, including a 2.4 for its appeal.

Grant is running for Rep. Michael McCaul’s (R-Texas) seat.

Working with The Hill for its Air War feature, Wilson Research Strategies e-mails campaign or issue ads to survey participants who view the ads and rate their effectiveness on several criteria.