Errol Morris' political switch ads

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 25, 2004

As I mentioned earlier this fall, Errol Morris has produced several political ads in the vein of his Apple Switch ads. The 30-second spots feature folks that voted for Bush in 2000 that are voting for Kerry in 2004.

John Kerry Switch ads by Errol Morris

They're presented in Morris' signature style, regular folks talking directly to the camera against a white background about why they're switching. I find these highly effective, but I (and many of you) are already planning to vote for Kerry. Some of these are going to show on TV (I think), but how can we get these ads in front of undecided-but-leaning-Republican voters in swing states? Paging George Soros...surely you've got enough money to get these suckers on Fox News during primetime...

Reader comments

eloisaOct 25, 2004 at 9:17AM

Those are awesome. They need to get out there!

JennaOct 25, 2004 at 10:32AM

Those are really good.

barnesOct 25, 2004 at 11:05AM

They should have Ellen Feiss do one.

"...Bush went into Iraq, and it was like, bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep..."


Nathan LoganOct 25, 2004 at 11:16AM

I'm voting for Bush (just like in 2000).


Gabriel MihalacheOct 25, 2004 at 11:52AM

Sadly, it's the same whining and hand-waving, and inviting the state to muscle private industry. The jobs "left" because americans are too damn experise. Deal with it! Protectionist measure are crap and everyone who bothered studied anything but Marxism economics in the last 200 years know it.

Protectionism now (like "supporting" one industry or another) will only lead to inneficient production, low profits and downsizing. If the numbers don't add up, it's pointless to have the state prolongue the agony of a local industry by wasting tax dollars.

That being said, GWB lied about a lot of things and he's a road block against progress (stem cell, green fuel, whatever) so, by all means, he should be out.

disclaimer: I'm a Romanian and I do a Senior Java Programmer job for 400$/month, which is less than a quarter of what a US citizen would get for the same job, and I can do it equally well.
While I can't afford a house, a car or an iPod, I can take pride in doing a good and efficient job regardless, so tell it to my face that my job is actually your job, will you?

Raul OcampoOct 25, 2004 at 12:38PM

Funny! If there's something the Democratic party is good at today it's theatre. I switched too, Gore in 2000 Bush in 2004. Why?

Because "Winter Soldiers" do not win the war on terror!

Because I'm tired of having my minority vote taken for granted --or worse, PANDERED TO!

Because I don't need some guy go out and shoot migratory birds to show me he's tough. Show me your legislation! How did you vote?!

P.S. Keep plugging at it Gabriel. You deserve more money but the H1-B visa scam is keeping you down. Work on that and find out how you can change it. That's the American way.

JohnOct 25, 2004 at 12:43PM

I'm not switching. I'm still voting Libertarian. No, it doesn't matter - Montana's electoral votes are going to Bush no matter what.

Jakob HeuserOct 25, 2004 at 12:44PM

Jason, I'd have to agree, these ads are very powerful and effective. They also target the exact audience that is important in the upcomming election, those on the fence (and those who voted Bush last time and are now unsure about doing it again). They paint voting for Kerry as the easy and safe road. I hope to hear these have aired in the very hot states.

CatherineOct 25, 2004 at 1:03PM

First, I agree that it is sad that Gabriel earns so little money for a job well done. How will she feel, as the people in Ireland, feel when the economy turn up and workers demand more wages then she, too will become a victim of out-sourcing/ being displaced? (Not trying to bash her, just pointing out the obvious.)

HOW CAN ANYONE BE UNDECIDED AT THIS POINT? I don't get this all. Please reply to this post and educate me, seriously.

Here is the number one reason that I almost NEVER vote Republican. I am 100% Pro-Choice and always will be.


Our reportoductive rights are on the line. Roe v. Wade is just a few judgeships away from being over-turned? You don't think that Bush will allow it to happen? You are naive and to be quite frank, a little stupid. The reproductive rights of women in this country have already been limited and reduced and it will continue unless we ELECT KERRY!

So, yes, let's get these ads on the air in as many states as possible on as many channels as possible!

Andrew EOct 25, 2004 at 1:37PM


Have you read the story today about the 380 tons (760,000 or so pounds, just for the sake of emphasis) of explosives in Iraq that were previously secured (before the war), and have now been looted over the course of 18 months? That's a pretty colossal mistake. I'd like a candidate to fight against terrorists - not actively strengthen them!

I'm sorry, but this story (among others) makes your reasons for voting for Bush seem so snippy and unimportant.

ChrisOct 25, 2004 at 1:46PM

These ads were funded and produced by MoveOn, so I'm reasonably sure that under campaign finance rules, neither the Kerry campaign nor the national Democratic committees can pay to have them aired -- no coordination is legal. You actually would either have to pump a tremendous amount of cash into MoveOn, or successfully lobby George Soros, in order to get these ads out in a large, high-visibility way.

Raul -- you know you can look up Kerry's legislative record for free, right? He doesn't have to "show it" to you -- it's out in the public record and you're welcome to it. And it's not like he hasn't advanced a whole hell of a lot of policy ideas, either. They're on his website if you're interested.

hartmurmurOct 25, 2004 at 1:59PM

Regarding these ads; people will do anything for money.

Gabriel, maybe it's your attitude that is keeping you at $400 a month and not your skills. Where I work, we are hurting for more java developers.

Catherine, women have the most to lose? How many abortions are you planning on having anyway? Most people would focused on planned pregnancy, but it appears you focus on planned abortions. Millions of people out there who can't have kids and would adopt (even from you) in a (pun-intended) heartbeat. Quit thinking about yourself. The world is better when people put others before themselves (in this case, all the innocent kids whose lives are taken by abortion).

How many have Americans have died in Iraq? 1000+
How many have died via abortion since Roe v. Wade? 43+ million in US alone!
The difference? Those who served their country did it voluntarily.

barlowOct 25, 2004 at 2:10PM

I think Catherine is right, only I'm on the opposite side of the abortion issue. (I think that's why it is so hard to imagine anyone being undecided if one is especially single-issue with regard to abortion.) I really wish that I didn't care about abortion and could vote for a candidate who can string three sentences together coherently, but that's the choice I have in this election. I want a free-trader, someone who doesn't idealize a Canadian-style health care system, and someone who will appoint pro-life judges to the courts. So I've gotta vote Bush. That's why none of those switcher ads really does it for me. Look at the religion section - it is basically people for whom religion is "good sentiment" and has very little content besides social justice. The religious voter who cares about abortion really can't switch. Although many republican nominees are pro-choice, all democrat nominees are, so we have to be practical and go with who gives us the biggest chance of staving off the permanence of something we think is unjust - abortion.

Damn, Kottke, you have a diverse readership.

Scott JohnsonOct 25, 2004 at 2:24PM

I can't wait to see one of these ads! (Wow, did I just say that?) The switch commercials were excellent. These should be good as well. But alas, I'm stuck behind the desk for now.

Nathan LoganOct 25, 2004 at 2:26PM

I'm with Barlow.


Not to delve into an abortion debate, but I would say that it's the unborn child who has the most to lose...

Andrew EOct 25, 2004 at 2:36PM

Catherine, women have the most to lose? How many abortions are you planning on having anyway?

Hey, genius - how did you go from women - which is plural, dontcha know - to focusing just on one particular woman, as though she were all women? That's pretty audacious - my hat goes off to you.

The world is better when people put others before themselves

Bahaha...your compassionate conservativism is a shining beacon!

CatherineOct 25, 2004 at 2:39PM

Well, Barlow and Hartmurmur your lack of understanding the issue is one of the problem with the Republican right.

1. Reproductive rights are MORE than abortions. It means that women have access to birth control, too.

2. We are talking about undecideds, not necessarily religious voters. I am sure that they are not mutually exclusive.

3. We are supposed to have in this great nation of ours a little something called separation of Church and State, correct? So, then why do these "Christians" want to inflict their religious views on the rest of us? What about people who are aethists? Or Hindu, muslim or Buddhist?

4. The assumption that I have had and/or will have an abortion is typcial Republican banter. You don't know me, houw would you know? Perhaps, I just don't believe on imposing my Catholic beliefs onto others?

5. Tying aborted fetuses to those served in Iraq? Not sound logic, A does not equal C. Have you taken a logic class?

Okay, back to the undecided voters. These ads need to get aired. Calling all rich people!

barlowOct 25, 2004 at 3:00PM

Not to turn this into an abortion discussion, Catherine, but in general I don't see this as a church/state kind of thing. I feel like I'm using the same kind of reasoning with regard to the legal status of abortion that leads me to believe matricide, fratricide, and vehicular manslaughter should be illegal. So for me, I don't feel like I'm imposing a religiously derived viewpoint on others - or stated better yet, I don't feel like my desire to see abortion illegal is any more of an imposition of religiously derived scruples than my desire to see rape illegal or drunk driving, etc. As for reproductive rights, I don't hear Bush saying that he wants condoms or birth control pills to be illegal; perhaps you're talking about government funding of these things for poor women. I also think it is a bit unfair to assume that I don't understand the issues from my minimal comments here. Frankly, I'm not that impressed with your grasp of the issue of church/state from your minimal comments on the matter, but it wouldn't be fair for me to conclude that you haven't studied the matter.

jkottkeOct 25, 2004 at 3:03PM

This is probably a futile attempt (in which case this thread will soon be closed), but we're off-topic with the abortion thing, so if we could limit ourselves to talking specifically about the ads and not debating general political issues, that would be great. Thanks.

Jim KellyOct 25, 2004 at 7:05PM

Ha, classic derail.

Judging from the posts it seems these ads might not be as convincing as we'd imagine (or hope!) No pun intended, but maybe we should all just move on.

DanielOct 25, 2004 at 7:35PM

I have been a loyal fan of this site, though I have never liked the political cheerleading. But its your blog, and I respect that.

All I have to say it , its interesting and effective from a design perspective.

But for my personal politics, I am leaning towards Bush/Cheney 2004.

JOct 25, 2004 at 11:34PM

Yes jason, we republicans are sheep. We see someone else switch, and then we must follow. Really now, the key is why they switched, and their reasons are probably cliched.

If we didn't switch our votes after you made your decision (big shocker there) as cool as you are, I doubt the dems have a chance at our vote.

jkottkeOct 25, 2004 at 11:44PM

Ok, I think we're done.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.