Winning in November
This article focused on the political uses to which 9/11 images have been used. The Washington Post hired Stanford University professor Shanto Iyengar. His research suggests that showing pictures of smoke plumes off of the Twin Towers is good for Bush while images of high gas prices are good for Democrats.
Specifically, images of the Twin Towers under attack were shown to 2,925 adults. According to the article, 53% of Democrats who saw the video said Islamic extremism was extremely important in causing terrorism, compared with 40% of Democrats in a control group, who saw no video. This tends to favor Bush and the Republicans.
When showing economic images, however, the tables turned towards Democrats. Here's the key passage:
Economic images, however, demonstrated considerable power -- greater than the video of the Twin Towers, but strictly limited to attitudes about the state of the national economy and personal finances. Different groups were shown images either of bad news (rising gasoline prices) or good news (jobs growth). Among those who saw the reports of gas prices, 42 percent said their family is worse off than a year ago, compared with 29 percent of those who saw the good news video. The spread was even greater among independents. Those who saw the gas prices video also were more pessimistic about the national economy.
There appears to be a linkage between the Iraq adventure -- which has spurred global instability -- and the rising price of oil. It is not enough to describe the problem though. To win, Democrats must propose a solution.
Thus Democrats aspiring to victory could show images of the high gas prices and argue that a program of US energy independence from Middle Eastern oil could be the solution. Since Republicans are so dependent on oil companies for campaign contributions, they are not likely to be able to credibly copy this strategy without damaging their interests.