A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

2008 Voter Turnout

Q: Is it true that 36 percent to 37 percent of eligible voters failed to vote in the recent presidential election?
A:Actually, the number is slightly higher than that: 38.4 percent of eligible voters didn’t cast a ballot for president in 2008. Even more — 39.9 percent — didn’t vote in 2006.

Unreported Stats

Q: What’s the deal with Prof. Joseph Olson’s “unreported stats” from the 2008 election?
A: This chain e-mail is a hoax. The “statistics” are grossly incorrect, and Prof. Olson says he didn’t write it.

Virginia’s Military Absentee Ballots

Q: Was the deadline for absentee ballots from military members extended in Virginia?
A: A hearing is scheduled Dec. 8 to decide whether Virginia election officials should count absentee ballots that arrived late. In response to a lawsuit filed before Election Day by John McCain’s campaign, a judge had ordered officials to keep such ballots until the matter was resolved.

The Whoppers of 2008 — The Sequel

Summary
The last five weeks have brought so many ads we feel like we’re drinking from a fire hose – and we’ll bet you’re pretty saturated, too.
Since our first “Whoppers of 2008” piece, we’ve seen some of the same themes repeated. McCain’s campaign doesn’t tire of distorting Obama’s tax plan, it seems, and in the process has whipped up at least 15 minutes of fame for sudden star Joe the Plumber. Obama continues trying to pull seniors into his camp by making deceptive claims about what McCain would do to Social Security,

More Social Security Bunk

Summary
Democrats celebrated Halloween early this year, trying to spook voters with the political boogeyman of risking Social Security in the stock market. Since October 1, we have found 58 ads from Democrats and their allies attacking their Republican House and Senate opponents on the issue. They mislead in several ways:

They say benefits would have been "risked in the stock market." While that’s true for younger workers, current beneficiaries wouldn’t have been eligible for private accounts under the plan President Bush supported.

$700 Billion Blame Game

Summary
We find House and Senate campaigns are taking liberties with the facts as they seek to assign blame for the nation’s financial mess.

A Democratic ad in Kentucky accuses Republican Senate Leader McConnell of conduct bordering on the criminal, but falsely accuses him of taking $4.4 million from "big banks."
A Republican ad in Pennsylvania claims Democratic House member Kanjorski sponsored a bill to "slash oversight" and "banks made millions." In fact, the bill never made it out of committee.

Obama’s Trade Trickery

Summary
An Obama-Biden ad ties McCain to the closing of a plant in Pennsylvania. Its assertions are misleading and false:

The ad says McCain "sold … out" workers whose factory closed. But there was nothing McCain, or anyone could have done. The factory was making parts for televisions that are becoming obsolete. The company in question has called the ad "misleading."
It implies jobs were sent to China by saying that workers were paid to "disassemble the plant and ship the equipment to China"

Maverick Misleads

Summary
McCain's campaign launched a TV ad touting his running mate, Palin, and offering a comparison to Obama. Some of its claims are off the mark:

It says Obama "gave big oil billions in subsidies and giveaways," citing his votes for a 2005 energy bill. But the bill slightly raised taxes on the oil industry overall.
The ad plucked a positive blurb about Palin from an Associated Press article that, in fact,

Not Pictured Here

 
Summary
An Obama ad features video of McCain walking toward the camera with a group of people in power suits, as the narrator says, "the lobbyists, running his low road campaign." None of the people pictured are lobbyists, however.
The ad also repeats a misleading claim that McCain favors "billions in tax breaks for big oil and drug companies." But McCain’s tax policy doesn’t target those industries. He calls for lowering the corporate tax rate for all companies.

No Flag on Obama’s Plane?

Q: Did Obama replace the U.S. flag on the tail of his campaign plane with his campaign symbol?
A: Yes. Obama’s newly designed campaign plane features the campaign’s logo on the tail. However, an image of the U.S. flag appears on the side of the plane.