When Political Campaign TV Ads Don’t Work

By Corinne Grinapol Comment

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There is something satisfying, what with the obscene sums of post-Citizens-United money flooding the campaign ad space, to note that it’s not having much of an effect, according to LA Times reporter Joseph Tanfani.

Back in July, the Cook Political Report predicted $4.4 billion in elections-related TV ad spending, a $600 million increase over the 2012 campaign cycle, and spending to date during this cycle has obliged:

The volume of Republican presidential ads on the air for 2015 was up by nearly 45% over the same period four years ago — with outside groups, not campaigns, responsible for 81% of the spending, according to an analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project, using data by Kantar Media CMAG, a media tracking firm.

But for many candidates, TV ad spending has become an expensive series of inputs without outputs. Big spender Jeb Bush–or Jeb Bush super PAC Right to Rise, we should say–has reaped little from the tens of millions of dollars worth of Buckley v. Valeo-defined speech sunk into commercials. “After at least $60 million in spending,” writes Tanfani, “Bush remains stuck at about 6 percent in polls.”

For the full picture of who is funding whom, and where and by what amounts, the Center for Public Integrity has created a TV ad tracker.

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