Controversial Ad Gets High Marks in Effectiveness

But falls short with independents

The most controversial ad of this year's presidential race is also one of the most effective, according to research firm Ace Metrix.

The Priorities USA ad in which Joe Soptic all but accuses presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of causing the death of his wife was the second most effective ad in the general population among more than 30 different ads run during the past month by super PACs and both presidential campaigns. Not bad for an ad that was never part of a TV buy.

The "Understands" ad was given a score of 448, based on six audience engagement metrics measured by Ace Metrix, such as agreement, attention, relevance and credibility. In each of metrics, the ad scored above the norm for political ads that have run since March.

However, among independents—the group of voters both parties are trying to turn—the ad misses the mark, scoring 33 points lower and falling out of the top 10 to rank in the bottom half among political ads run in the past month.

The race for most effective ad may be nearly as competitive as the election itself. Romney and the GOP PACs are doing only slightly better than the Obama camp among independents with a slim 2 percent margin, credited to Public Notice Research and Education Fund's "Washington Is Still Digging" ad.

That ad, which calls out the Obama administration for the nation's growing debt, was not only the highest-scoring ad among the general population with a 526, but also the top ad among the independents, scoring a 541.

Obama for America's "Worried" ad, featuring Obama's voiceover that "we need everyone to pay their fair share," was the second-highest-scoring ad among independents with 465. In third place was Crossroads GPS' "Worst" ad, which leads with a quote from CBS' Scott Pelley saying that the current state is the "worst economic recovery America has ever had."

Ad rank among independents:

Group Ad Length Ace score
Public Notice Washington Is Still Digging :30 541
Obama for America Worried :30 465
Crossroads GPS Worst :30 462
Obama for America The Choice :60 461
Secure America Now Don't Cut Defense :30 459
Romney for President Believe In Our Future :60 446
Romney for President Where Did All The Money Go? :30 441
Moveon.Org Rfalca Romney :30 440
RNC Right Choice :30 437
Obama for America Always :30 437

Ad rank among general population:

Group Ad Length Ace score
Public Notice Washington Is Still Digging :30 526
Priorities USA Understands :60 448
Obama for America The Choice :60 444
RNC Right Choice :30 442
Crossroads GPS Worst :30 434
Americans for Prosperity One Term Proposition :30 430
Romney for President Where Did All The Money Go? :30 429
Obama for America Worried :30 426
Romney for President Believe In Our Future :60 422
Obama for America I Believe :30 422

Source: Ace Metrix Politics