Poll: Ads Have Little Effect on Bush, Kerry Image

Public views of President Bush and Democratic rival John Kerry (search) have changed little in the past month despite millions of dollars of television campaign ads, according to a survey released Monday.

The University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey (search) compared attitudes about the candidates in the first half of March with those in the second half and found that changes in their favorability ratings were "statistically insignificant" in the 18 battleground states where the most ads have run.

The survey in those states found that 41 percent viewed Kerry favorably in the first part of the month, compared to 39 percent during the last half, while Bush's favorability was 49 percent in early March and 48 percent in late March.

Bush has spent about $40 million since March 4 to run ads on local TV stations in the 18 states, and nationally on cable networks and radio stations. The ads highlight Bush's strengths and portray Kerry as weak on the economy and terrorism. However, the survey showed no real change in Kerry's negative rating in those key states, with 29 percent of the public viewing Kerry negatively in late March compared to 28 percent early in the month.

Kerry and outside Democratic interest groups spent about $20 million combined in the past month, mainly on ads criticizing Bush. But those commercials, too, have had little effect, according to the survey, which showed that Bush's unfavorable rating was 40 percent in late March and 39 percent in early March in the 18 states.

The two polls were conducted among 2,575 adults between March 1 and March 15 and among 1,670 adults between March 16 and March 31. They have margins of sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.