The Guardian’s attempt to involve itself in the US Presidential election has backfired-badly.
After a letter-writing campaign to uncommitted voters in Ohio’s Clark County, urging them to back the Democratic Party’s John Kerry, voter turnout was the biggest for years. But it was mostly for George W Bush.
In fact, Clark County (population 145,000) was the only one of Ohio’s 88 counties to turn from being predominantly Democratic in 2000 to overwhelmingly Republican this election.
Many residents voiced resentment at the intrusion of The Guardian, with some writing abusive letters in response. Comments included: “We don’t need weenie-spined Limeys meddling in our election.” Other remarks were even ruder.
A spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party said: “The Guardian’s campaign fired up our side, not just in Clark County, but all across the state.”
The official added that some waivering voters told the party that the paper’s campaign helped them make a decision to vote for Bush It seemed for a time that the campaign might even cost The Guardian its Congressional press pass in Washington, when House Speaker Dennis Hastert threatened to withdraw its press credentials.
The Guardian was also lambasted by several radio commentators and TV talk show hosts.
A headline in one paper in Ohio, the Springfield News Sun , read: “Butt out Brits, voters say”.
One positive result was an increase in the number of people in Clark County, and the rest of Ohio, volunteering to help on election day.
A Republican Party official, speaking about The Guardian’s voting tactic, commented: “Their tactic failed miserably -except perhaps as a publicity stunt.”
By Jeffrey Blyth, New York