How Big Will The Final Political Ad Tally Be?
by Inside Radio
Experts say the question now isn’t whether political ad dollars will be big this year, but rather just how enormous the tally will be when the dust settles. “Just about every race out there has exceeded my expectations — that’s across the board,” said Steve Passwaiter, VP and GM of Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG).
The old adage about “location, location, location” couldn’t be more apt when it comes to which broadcasters are getting the biggest slice of the 2018 mid-term pie. Florida’s high-profile contest between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis could end up smashing the record for spending in a Governor’s race with $171 million dropped on the primary and general election through Oct 22, according to Kantar/CMAG. The Illinois gubernatorial battle between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker hit $95.2 million, per Kantar/CMAG, while Ohio’s tight race for the governor’s mansion between Republican Mike DeWine and Democrat Rich Cordray has racked up $65.1 million.
In the Senate, where Republicans are mounting a no-holds-barred effort to retain control, Florida also leads in spending but Nevada, Missouri and Illinois are showing hefty allocations too. And in the House, where Democrats need a 23-seat victory to take control, the biggest spending district is Washington’s eighth district, home to Seattle-Tacoma, with $19.3 million spent as of Oct. 22. Florida’s 26th district (Miami-Ft. Lauderdale) is second at $19.0 million, followed by CA-10 (including the state capital of Sacramento) with $17.6 million. CO-6 (Denver), with $17.1 million, and TX-7 (Houston), at $16.3 million, round out the top five House districts for spending. But districts around Los Angeles and San Diego are also seeing a lot of dollars. These totals include previous spending and forward reservations.
Nationally, the Democrats are outspending the Republicans by a 60/40 split, according to Kip Cassino, executive VP at Borrell Associates.
Ten Races = $1 Billion
Among some of the tightest gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, just 10 of them account for nearly $1 billion in spending on TV and radio, according to AdAge. The actual figure, based on an Ad Age Datacenter analysis of data from Kantar Media/CMAG, is $967.5 million.
In its final pre-election forecast, Kantar/CMAG projects local broadcast TV will get $2.7 billion in political ad buys this year. That’s up 29% from the $2.1 billion logged four years ago during the last midterms. On local cable, Kantar/CMAG projects $1.05 billion in political ad buys, a 70% increase from the $600 million spent four years ago. If the forecast holds up, it will make 2018 the second-biggest political advertising year ever — including presidential years. Further helping, Passwaiter said, political action committees have dominated spending.
The competitive mid-term races Americans are voting on today include many of the country’s priciest media markets. “It’s not too exciting spending-wise when every TV station in North Dakota is sold out. But it gets a lot more interesting when it happens in places like Las Vegas, Phoenix and Chicago, New York and L.A,” Passwaiter said. He pointed to reports that demand is so strong in Las Vegas that stations are getting as much as $4,000 a point, while in Florida more than $100 million was spent just on the gubernatorial primary.
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