If you want to get a sense of just how saturated local television broadcasts are in battleground states, check out this compressed recording of Thursday's noon news broadcast on the Columbus, Ohio, CBS affiliate:
- Just over 10 minutes worth of political ads packed into a half-hour newscast
- 22 consecutive political ads (including 1 voter ID PSA)
- 5 ads attacking Obama (all from outside groups)
- 2 ads supporting Romney (one from Romney campaign, one from Crossroads)
- 2 ads attacking Romney (one from OFA, one from Priorities)
- 4 ads attacking Sherrod Brown (all outside groups)
- 1 ad supporting Sherrod Brown (from his campaign)
- The rest of the ads were for local ballot issues or candidates
Keep in mind that local news is the absolute worst as far as being wall-to-wall political advertising is concerned. On Friday, I saw 45 consecutive political ads during the evening broadcast with a similar mix to the one posted here. With such saturation, I can't imagine that any of the ads on local news will have any impact, at least not for the high profile races. There's just no way to process the ads without having your eyes glaze over.
At least in other programming there's non-political ads which allow the political ones to break through. But even then, I've noticed that the political ads seem to be clumped together—you might have a commercial break which is all political, then a break that has no political ads. (That's just an impression—not a scientific assessment.)
The other thing about the ads is that almost all of them are terrible. Just really, really bad ads. So it might not be any surprise that despite the tens of millions spent advertising in Ohio, we're pretty much back where we started. And if it turns out that political advertising isn't the way to win the presidency, we'll all be better off for it.
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