The Impact of Fahrenheit 9/11

Ken AshfordElection 2004, Popular CultureLeave a Comment

I was among the many who thought that, once you get past all the controversy and noise, "Fahrenheit 9/11" would simply be a movie that preached to the choir. It wasn’t going to sway many on the right (who wouldn’t see it because they were on the right). Nor was it going to sway many in the center (on the assumption that most people in the center are apathetic and wouldn’t see it, or that they would remain open to other points of view even after seeing it). It would just rally the base, if anything.

And that’s still largely true . . . except for one thing. In a close election, persuasion of even a small percentage of those on the right and/or center can make all the difference. I’m not alone in this:

"I’m not sure if it moves voters," GOP consultant Scott Reed said, "but if it moves 3 or 4 percent it’s been a success."

Two senior Republicans closely tied to the White House said the movie from director Michael Moore is seen as a political headache because it has reached beyond the Democratic base. Independents and GOP-leaning voters are likely to be found sitting beside those set to revel in its depiction of a clueless president with questionable ties to the oil industry.

What is surprising to me is this poll:

A Gallup survey conducted July 8-11 said 8 percent of American adults had seen the film at that time, but that 18 percent still planned to see it at a theater and another 30 percent plan to see it on video.

More than a third of Republicans and nearly two-thirds of independents told Gallup they had seen or expected to see the film at theaters or on video.

So will "Fahrenheit 9/11" win the election for Kerry? It’s too early to tell. There’s still so many unknown factors — the impact of the conventions, the impact of the debates, the impact of hitting 1000 American dead in Iraq, the impact of possible al Qaeda attacks, the impact of SCARES about possible al Qaeda attacks, the economny stupid, and numerous others. It’s hard to say that "Fahrenheit 9/11"’s impact will overshadow any of them. Nevertheless, the movie seems (according to this article) to be making Pubs nervous. On the other hand, Pubs are scared of everything.