Will the Ad Wars Make Any Difference?

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Here comes the flood. The Obama and Romney campaigns, and their allied super PACs, are on course to spend more than $1 billion on television advertising in 2012. But only about half that money has already been spent. In my new magazine story, now available online to subscribers, I look at the campaign ad wars filling this three-week period between the party conventions and the October debates. “A deluge is coming,” Steven Law, CEO of the Karl Rove-advised super PAC American Crossroads explained to me. Smart phones, Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized media, but campaigns still play out as they did a generation ago–in thousands of 30 second increments on television screens across America. In that area, the Romney campaign will have the advantage, thanks in no small part to American Crossroads and groups like it. The Obama team remains undeterred: “We will be outspent, but our grassroots operations is how we’ll win,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina tells TIME.

But while Obama is enjoying a post-convention bounce in the polls, Romney advisers believe the campaign home stretch will work in their favor. Undecided votes are likely to break decisively against Obama, argues Romney media strategist Stuart Stevens (never mind that they didn’t do that for John Kerry in 2004). And even as he bounces, Obama has had trouble breaking above the 50 percent mark. “He has just not been acquiring new voters,” Stevens says.

And then there’s Romney’s cash advantage. What no one can say, though, is how much money might be too much. With all these ads clogging the airwaves in just nine swing states across the country–and with perhaps just a few million voters still undecided– is it overkill? Will that last few million of spending in the Columbus market fall on deaf ears? And if so, what do campaign insiders expect to determine the winner of a close race on Election Day? Read my story to find out.

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EyeDigress
EyeDigress

Political advertisements generally are only effective in swaying voter opinion in the week directly before an election. The ad spending is a big payoff to the media from both sides of the aisle. As a result, we get a lot of pretend-horse race, false-equivalency nonsense to keep those media coffers primed with cash. If the politicians weren't buying off the media, we might see real debates on issues as opposed to the used car salesman forums that now pass as job interviews for the Presidency.

Dan5404
Dan5404

When a candidate is as extreme as Romney or Ryan, the prospect of money buying an election lessens.  Their campaign is turning into a Republican disaster because of Romney's constant flip-flopping and bizarre pronouncements and Ryan's budget plan and stance on women's rights.   Slowly, even those who were originally swayed by out-of-context soundbites and bumper stickers are beginning to have serious doubts about what Rick Santorum once termed as the worst possible candidate the Republicans could pick.  For once, Santorum got it right.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

I don't watch most ads thanks to teevee remote. Romney ads aren't exactly known for fact-checking. No amount of millions wasted by megaPAC's can force me to watch them. If only more people can realize this too.

sacredh
sacredh

I think that most of the undecided voters that break for either Mitt or Obama are probably just looking for something to cement a decision that they're already leaning towards. The debates are going to play a larger role than carpet bombing ad campaigns. We've got a grand total of two people at work that haven't decided about November. Both of them are conservatives that don't know whether they're even going to bother voting.

FlownOver
FlownOver

The amount of difference the ads will make? That depends substantially on how responsible the objective media choose to be. If you (Time et al.) choose to ignore the predictable, provable lies it's quite possible the Karl Roves of the world will have a significant impact. If we get only stenography and false equivalence you will have done a great disservice.

bobell
bobell

I live in a swing state (Virginia), and we're already drowning in ads. Right now, Crossroads is running one against Tim Kaine (running for Senate in a close race) that's thirty seconds of nothing but lies.  The problem for Kaine is how to expose so many lies in his own 30 seconds.  Not to mention that no matter what he comes up with, he'll still be swamped by the other side.

Money may not save Romney -- I'm beginning to think that divine intervention won't save Romney -- but it's likely to have huge down-ballot effect.  If still more state governorships and legislatures fall into Republican hands, with the resulting voter suppression and tax cuts for the rich, even losing the White House may not keep the Republicans from enacting major chunks of their reactionary agenda.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

I posted a link the other day to an article that pointed out that Rove has moved his efforts to maintaining the House and winning as many Senate races as they can.

JamesTee56
JamesTee56

Here is a detailed look at fundraising efforts by both campaigns, how much they have spent and who their largest donors are and what states they are from:

http://viableopposition.blogsp...

Interestingly, of the funds raised thus far, the Romney campaign has spent 26 percent to raise even more funds compared to only 4 percent for the Obama campaign.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

That's good to know.  That may effectively neutralize the money disparity between their campaigns.