Campaign Ads: How Parties Communicate Without Coordinating

by - July 03, 2014

As I wrote in April, releasing ad reservation plans is more than just getting a quick-hit story in a national publication. Not too many cycles ago, political reporters rightly handled television ad reservations loosely and delicately as strategists from both parties used them to play games. Strategists would make some reservations with little or no intent to fulfill them in order to fake out the other party, the media or both. But that was also a time when the party campaign committees (through their independent expenditure arms) dominated outside spending in races. Now, outside spending from non-party groups has increased, and party strategists can’t afford to pull in and out of competitive races or abruptly shift advertising plans because television spending strategies are more integrated. For example, on May 26, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s independent expenditure arm announced it’s intention to reserve weeks six through eight and weeks one and two on broadcast television in the St. Louis media market, which is likely to be used for a race in Illinois’ 12th District. (Remember that in campaign speak, weeks are numbered backward starting with Election Day. So the last week before the election is actually week one.) Strategists at House Majority PAC, the go-to outside group for House races on the Democratic side, saw the hole in weeks three through five and, on June 18, reserved broadcast and cable time for St. Louis during that time. Then on June 27, the DCCC confirmed its initial reservation plans. Now Democrats have ensured that they have airtime in St. Louis for virtually all of September, October and early November without unnecessary overlapping of time.

Source: Campaign Ads: How Parties Communicate Without Coordinating

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