In just under two months, we will celebrate the arrival of a new year. There will be plenty of things to anticipate in the coming year: the optimists will make their resolutions striving to reach them by the year’s end and the pessimists will continue to raise their voices about the end of the world. But 2012 also brings another event with it: the presidential election.
As the presidential campaigns begin to get into full swing, our television sets once mainly confirmed to the usual commercial advertisement bombardment will face another kind—the political advertisements. Every four years we are exposed to the constant cycle of emotional ads, attack ads, biographical ads, issue ads, and on and on and on. And the reason is simple: the person who spends the most money in the races is usually the victor. This was demonstrated in the 2008 presidential election with Barack Obama outspending John McCain 3 to 1 on political advertisements on television. In the 2008 congressional campaigns, in the 426 House races, the person who spent the most money won 397 of those races. Also in the races for seats in the Senate, the biggest spender won 30 out of 32 races.
This does not necessarily mean that if a candidate spends more money on advertising that they will win. However, it could be an indicator of just how much influence advertising has on our election process. We are inundated with ads and messages about political candidates from TV to radio to simple guerilla marketing tactics and it obviously impacts our voting decision. So take a step back and think about it as you begin to listen to these ads. Are you voting for this person because you truly feel they are the best candidate or are you voting because the candidate’s ad campaign was great?
For a closer look at how much politicians are spending on political advertising, head over to http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/
-Jessica Kingman, Alaethea Hensley, Lauren Phelps