Examples of how researching a political opponent has worked - and how it has backfired - in politics:

December 6, 2009 

OPPOSITION RESEARCH AT WORK

A big winner
Swiftboat veterans. Chris LaCivita, an adviser to Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer's Republican campaign for governor, is credited with - or blamed for - the 2004 presidential campaign ads that had fellow servicemen question the Vietnam War service of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. Kerry ran, in part, as a war hero. However, the Swiftboat ads undercut his military credibility at a time when the United States was waging two wars. President George W. Bush, a member of the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, won the national security argument and re-election.
A big dud?
Bush DUI. The Friday before the 2000 race, a story broke detailing George W. Bush's 24-year-old drunken driving arrest, raising questions about his judgment and maturity. Those questions helped Vice President Al Gore mount a small comeback. But Bush won a tight election, taking the electoral vote. In the end, the "October surprise" didn't win for Gore.
A boomerang
Supporting the military? In the 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary, Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler released an ad in which an actor resembling Mark Sanford stripped a soldier to his skivvies, accusing Sanford of not supporting the military while in Congress. The ad was based on an old opposition research trick - take procedural or protest votes and represent those as an opponent's beliefs. It didn't work. Sanford won the GOP nomination and two terms as governor.

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