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Obama’s Spending a Boon to Stations

Mar 2, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The continuing fight for the Democratic presidential nomination is fueling record-setting ad spending as it approaches Tuesday’s primary elections and potentially its last stops in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont.
As of last week, the 2008 presidential primary campaign was on pace to pass $200 million in ad spending, much of it on TV stations. That figure, from TNSMI’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, compares with $64.5 million four years ago when only the Democrats had a primary race.
In the final stretch, Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign is ahead on advertising spending.
In another apparent demonstration of fundraising prowess, on one day last week the Obama campaign spent $770,000 to run more than 1,700 spots, compared to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign expenditure of $460,000 for 1,000 spots.
Evan Tracey, who tracks the spending for CMAG, said the Obama campaign’s ad spending was towering over the Clinton campaign’s spending in every single market he’s seen.
By early last week, the Clinton campaign had spent $1.3 million in Ohio and $3.3 million in Texas for a total of $4.6 million in the first two weeks of the three-week run toward the March 4 primary.
The Obama campaign, meanwhile, had spent $2.4 million in Ohio and $5.6 million in Texas for a total of $8 million.
Four years ago, as soon as John Kerry won the Democratic nomination, President Bush’s re-election campaign launched ads trying to define him as a flip-flopper.
The Republican National Committee last week declined to say if it would immediately launch ads if the Democratic nominee becomes apparent after this week’s primaries. There have been indications that GOP groups would seek contributions to fund an “informational” campaign after the Democratic candidate was selected, but no advertising has yet been announced.
TV station managers say the spending was an unexpected pleasant surprise. Ohio traditionally has been the beneficiary of major spending in the presidential contests in recent years, but only in the fall.
Texas, President Bush’s home state, hasn’t benefited as much, particularly since Sen. Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign didn’t spend a lot on political ads in heavily Republican states.
Political observers and station managers said they had expected the presidential selection to be wrapped up before either state voted.
“It came at us unexpectedly,” said Mark Lyles, an account executive at KHOU-TV, the Belo-owned CBS affiliate in Houston. “It’s hard to watch the station and not to realize there is an election.” He said news programming is full of political ads.
Steve Mauldin, general manager of CBS-owned CBS affiliate KTVT-TV and independent KTXA-TV in Dallas/Fort Worth, said the political campaign has brought $4 million in ad dollars into the market and that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also had taken out some ads.
“It’s welcome money,” said Mr. Mauldin. He noted the ad dollars are turning out to be additional dollars rather than replacement dollars. “The Texas economy hasn’t been hurt as badly.”

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