Even if only 10% of voters are familiar with FairVote, a much higher percentage of the political types (journalists, politicians, blog writers, register-guard editors, etc.) and those are the types people that a lot of voters look to when deciding which ballot initiatives to vote for. One hit piece by a popular organization early on can have a ripple effect.
But arguably the biggest issue was that FairVote’s hit piece is the first thing that pops up when you google star voting. I use google to find out more about ballot initiatives before voting for them and I’m sure a lot of other voters do the same. There was a study that had been done a while a go (I forgot where I found it) on the effect google’s search result rankings. Voters were asked how they would vote after researching particular candidates, however for each of the two groups, the same information about the different options for the same election were ranked differently on google. The effect just google’s search result ranking had on the voter’s opinions was astonishing.