And it’s not just CBS that’s riding high thanks to political ad spending. TV stations in battleground states are magnets for ad spending, and they’re driving a new wave of consolidation in the broadcast industry, leaving a handful of big media companies well-positioned to reap hundreds of millions during the 2014 midterm elections and, especially, the 2016 presidential race. Just in the past month, the Gannett company bought 20 TV stations for $1.5 billion, and the Tribune Company inked a $2.7 billion deal for 19 stations. Those deals included stations in battleground states.
Washington, DC’s WJLA, owned by the Allbritton media company, the New York Times notes, which serves both the DC and the northern Virginia markets, banked $33 million in ad spending on campaigns and issues last year. Columbus’ WBNS, owned by the Dispatch Broadcast Group, booked $20 million in campaign ad spending out of $50 million in total ad buys. Ad spending was also up at TV stations in Wisconsin and Colorado. Wherever there was a political fight, campaigns and consultants were gobbling up ads.
After a week of election postmortems, one thing is clear: Mitt Romney’s failure to understand America’s changing demographics led to his undoing. But there was another killer: Geography. Deep blue cities and their inner suburbs came out for Barack Obama, pulling the president through in battleground states like Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, and Florida. And they put him so far ahead in places like Wisconsin, Nevada, and Pennsylvania that Romney never really had a chance (not to mention his home base of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, which went 78 percent for the president).
Of course, this isn’t a new phenomenon. In 2008, Obama took cities even more convincingly, allowing him to win North Carolina and Indiana as well. But America is only growing more urban, with cities that had been losing population since the 1960s finally starting to swell again. Eventually, fast-growing blue cities like San Antonio, Houston, and Austin could bring even the GOP stronghold of Texas within the Democrats’ reach. In the long term, the stakes are high: Republicans could be relegated to permanent minority party status.
“One of two things will eventually happen,” says Columbia University professor Ester Fuchs, who’s served as an advisor to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Either [the GOP] will change from the inside and transform, because it will lose its ability to create a majority coalition over time. Or, if the Republican Party doesn’t recognize the demographic shifts, they will disappear as one of the major parties.”
Unfortunately, all I heard when I picked up was a woman’s voice ask, ‘Is this Mr. Boston?’ before the line went dead.
The next evening, Reed tried once more. And again I jumped up from the couch (sending an alarmed cat scurrying upstairs) and grabbed the phone before the second ring. This time, I didn’t even hear a voice, just a dial tone.
If this was an example of Reed’s much-vaunted voter outreach, it leaves something to be desired.
The fact is, Reed had a bad night Nov. 6. Months prior to the election, he bragged about his plans to distribute 25 million voter guides and reach out to more than 100,000 churches. An army of right-wing evangelicals, he said, would march into the nation’s voting booths and propel Mitt Romney to the White House.
Sorry, Ralph, but it appears your army went missing in action.
Conservative columnist Steve Deace says Religious Right evangelical turnout actually dropped in two key states – Virginia and Florida.
‘The exit polls also said white evangelical turnout in Virginia was down 7% from 2008, and Romney did not improve evangelical turnout in Florida from four years ago while losing about 40,000 to libertarian Gary Johnson,’ wrote Deace.
Christianity Today reported that evangelical support for the GOP ticket also dropped in Ohio, the mother of all battleground states. It was only a 3-point drop, but in a tight race that might have made a difference.
‘In Ohio, Romney had a more difficult time convincing evangelicals to support him,’ reported the magazine. ‘In 2008, McCain received 71 percent of evangelical votes in Ohio. Exit polls this year don’t show much change, with 68 percent of evangelicals voting for the Republican ticket.’
The traditional tactical faking and feinting of a presidential contest’s final days has been transformed this year by the stunning amounts of money both camps possess. The sort of scarcity-driven tough decisions of old among competing alternatives has been supplanted by both campaigns spending as if they were playing Monopoly with stacks of cash piled to the ceiling.
The Romney camp disclosed its moves into the states earlier in the week, explaining that polls showing single-digit deficits justified an expansion of the electoral playing field. Even some Republican consultants, who aren’t with the Romney campaign, were taken aback, seeing the prospect of victory in the three states as remote.
But the Obama campaign has counterattacked, even as it rolls its eyes.
“I think the reality of this race has closed in on the Romney campaign, that we are even or ahead in every one of the battleground states, including Ohio, so they are taking fliers, desperately looking for an alternative path to 270 (electoral votes),’ said David Axelrod, a chief Obama strategist.
For example, by Wednesday evening, the Obama campaign discerned Romney and allied groups dramatically upping their campaign spending in Pennsylvania to what’s known as 5,000 GRPs (gross rating points) per TV market—meaning the average voter will see their spots 50 times in the next five days.
Billionaires, anonymous donors and shadowy outside groups funneled enormous amounts of money into this year’s federal elections, as the cost of the presidential campaign surged past $2 billion and is expected to set a record. Despite grumbling among watchdog groups and even candidates themselves, don’t expect serious changes any time soon.
After a series of high-profile federal court rulings, the US government’s newly relaxed campaign-finance system allowed for unlimited contributions from corporations, labor groups and others; television advertisements from nonprofit groups that concealed who paid for them and the proliferation of at least 773 super political action committees.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney experienced both extremes from super PACs: Some attacked him mercilessly during the primary elections and others have supported Romney’s campaign by purchasing ads assailing President Barack Obama.
The money race was as important as ever this election. Super PACs supporting Obama and Romney spent more than $500 million in ads, helping Romney especially in battleground states. Nonprofit “social welfare” organizations have spent hundreds of millions more on so-called issue ads, but they are governed by tax laws and don’t have to disclose their donors.
Each presidential campaign raised more than $800 million, a staggering sum. Obama had shattered records four years ago when his fundraising apparatus pulled in $750 million. That amount raised by the presidential candidates is dwarfed by amounts being spent collectively on congressional campaigns.
President Obama and Mitt Romney are plunging into the final nine days of a multibillion-dollar presidential race focused not only on the seven most competitive states, but also on battleground counties within them that could tip the balance of an exceedingly close contest.
The Romney campaign office in Abingdon, Va. Virginia is particularly vital to Mitt Romney, particularly if he does not win Ohio.
They include the suburbs here in Franklin County, Ohio, where many young married women turned to Mr. Obama in 2008 out of frustration with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but could turn against him now for perceived failures on his campaign promises and a slow-to-recover economy.
In Colorado, it is Arapahoe County, where Mr. Romney’s campaign is courting Hispanic business owners who are frustrated with the national health care law. It is Hillsborough County in Florida, where both sides agree that whoever wins the independent voters is likely to be president.
At this late stage of the race, the fight for the White House is being waged on intensely local terrain, in places whose voting histories and demographics have been studied in minute detail by both sides. Mr. Obama is intent on replicating an electorate that swept him into office four years ago and is heavily dependent on younger, female and minority voters. Mr. Romney is relying on an older, whiter and more conservative voting group, along the lines of the ones that turned out in 2004 and 2010.
The Romney campaign, worried about its options in the seven top battleground states, opened a fund-raising drive on Saturday to try and expand the playing field into Pennsylvania and Minnesota, two states that Mr. Obama has considered safe. Mr. Romney is also making a deeper push this week into Wisconsin, which he will visit for the first time in two months.
“The switch that went on after that first debate is still on,” said Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican. “I still think people are undecided, they are still listening.”
n Tuesday, October 23, precisely two weeks out from Election Day, ABC News and the Washington Post reported the second set of results from their homestretch tracking poll of 1,382 likely voters nationwide. The survey had Mitt Romney ahead of President Obama by 49 to 48 percent, a fashion-model-slender lead that, in fact, was even slimmer than those numbers suggested. (Pushing out two decimal places, the poll found Romney at 48.51 percent and Obama at 48.44.) And the ABC-WaPo tracker was no outlier. To the contrary. At this writing, on October 25, the RealClearPolitics national polling average gave Romney a 47.7 to 47.1 lead, and in all but one of the nine battleground states, the margin separating the two nominees was less than 3 percent.
Drilling down on the numbers at this late stage, a few conclusions are unavoidable. First, despite claims to the contrary by the Romney campaign, there is no massive wave of momentum carrying Mittens either nationally or in the battleground states—but the bump he received after the first debate elevated him sufficiently that he stands a plausible chance of winning this thing. Second, buoyed by his strong performances in the second and third debates, Obama’s position has stabilized and he holds a small but significant advantage in terms of the electoral map—but his sub-50 percent support levels in all of the battleground states is a cause for real concern among Democrats. All of which is to say, third and finally, that next Tuesday night is likely gonna be the emotional equivalent of riding the Cyclone at Coney Island: a nerve-jangling, empty-out-the-liquor-cabinet-and-stash-box sort of affair.
But here’s the thing: It could be even worse than that. At a moment when the bitter polarization that has poisoned our politics for so long has reached a new height (or depth) of vehemence and venom, there is a small but nontrivial possibility that come November 7, we will find ourselves facing an outcome that would trigger a national political meltdown, in which a large portion of each side decries the election result as illegitimate. Indeed, your columnist can imagine four such Armageddon scenarios. I present them in order, from the most to the least likely—and least to most horrific…
Ken Cuccinelli, the Attorney General of Virginia, is refusing to investigate Colin Small, the man arrested for throwing into a dumpster voter registration forms. Small, who worked directly for Nathan Sproul, and for one of his companies and subcontractors, has been charged with eight felonies and five misdemeanors. Sproul has been paid millions of dollars by Mitt Romney and the RNC, despite being the subject of many voter fraud allegations. Sproul and his companies, which have been reported as shell companies that change names and locations, has worked in at least 30 states, especially key battleground states.
Day in and day out, in battleground states across the country, voters are seeing ads like the one above. The messages they’re absorbing from this advertising onslaught have an enormous impact, relatively speaking. Yet while the candidates’ speeches on the campaign trail are covered and dissected exhaustively, the impact of the ads is far less examined, as it’s almost impossible for reporters to gauge the strategy behind their dissemination and the role they’re playing in candidates’ fortunes. A fascinating recent Politico story did much to reveal the different Romney and Obama ad-buying strategies, but the content and effectiveness of the ads remains difficult to evaluate.
A new study aims to bring some clarity to that muddle. A market-research firm called Qualtrics, working with public-opinion shop Evolving Strategies, did a controlled experiment testing the reactions of independent and persuadable voters to ads from Romney, Obama, and a Republican super PAC. They found that Obama’s ads were working to sway swing voters, while Romney’s were not — and the Koch Brothers-backed GOP super PAC, Americans for Prosperity, didn’t help Romney either.
The study exposed 2,300 voters to Romney and Obama ads on three themes — Medicare, economic plans, and economy-based attacks on the other candidate — as well as the Americans for Prosperity ad, “Disappointed.” A control group didn’t see any ads. All the respondents were either pure independents or weak partisans; none were strong Democrats or Republicans.
Hollywood actresses Scarlett Johansson, Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington are featured condemning Republicans for their stance on abortion in a new political ad from the liberal group MoveOn.org.
The spot, released Monday and directed by noted filmmaker Rob Reiner, will air nationally and in the battleground states of Colorado and Virginia, the group said, adding it would air during shows primarily viewed by women.