Rothenberg: No more time to cut through the clutter

Stu Rothenberg:

You'd never know it from the avalanche of TV ads, direct-mail pieces and phone calls that voters will receive in October, but most campaigns have only another week or two to change the likely outcome of their contests.

Sure, the midterm elections are still five weeks away, but the combination of early voting in many states and the difficulty of cutting through the coming clutter means that the best opportunity for campaigns to change voter attitudes is quickly coming to an end.

Every election cycle is different. Society changes, all the external factors change. More government influence in society and greater competition for Congress in an all-or-nothing binary system of control ===> more spending in elections ===> diminishing returns for every additional marginal dollar spent on ads at the end of an election cycle.

It's not a groundbreaking thought, but I don't see most people talking about it. Especially the pundits, who frequently think that American elections are exactly the same as when they were a young beat reporter in the 70s or 80s. Heh.

Also in Rothenberg's column:

In Texas' 17th district, Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards bought almost 7,000 gross ratings points between Aug. 27 and Sept. 27 on Waco broadcast TV, pummeling his Republican opponent, Bill Flores.

Unfortunately for Edwards, Flores bought about 4,000 points, and the NRCC chipped in about another 1,500 points. American Future Fund checked in with about another 1,000 points during the same period (None of these figures include the cable TV purchased by the candidates or the political committees). Voters, in short, have already heard many attacks.

If the polls suggesting that Flores is leading by 15 points are correct, Edwards is done. I'd be surprised if he managed a Houdini-like escape. Even against Wohlgemuth, he was never in such bad shape.

Posted by Evan @ 09/30/10 04:03 PM


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