Do Gaffes Matter?

Pareene believes so:

We can acknowledge that 99 percent of pundits are useless and that very simple formulas can basically tell us how most elections will turn out, but there is still a human element. I think we can look at "gaffes" similarly to the way we look at negative ads: They don’t matter as much as pundits think, sure, but they have an effect on the result. Just as campaign ads matter more with unfamiliar candidates — and hence they matter more in congressional races than national races — gaffes are clearly more likely to sink congressional candidates (Sharron Angle, George Allen) than presidential ones. (And Romney gaffes probably motivate Obama supporters, just as negative ads seem to help motivate partisans.)