Midterm Advertising: An Arms Race

The blitz of political advertising — finally wrapping up in the next 24 hours — is enough to make your head spin and wonder: How is anyone able to discern who and what to vote for? Scott Collins of the Los Angeles Times writes that the barrage of ads “is not even about the message anymore. It is about mass.” Ads for Proposition 87 are not even that compelling, but it doesn’t matter, because media strategists had been “weaponizing TV” in an arms race “to drown out the other guy’s voice.” “The more something is on TV, the more credibility and legitimacy it has with the public,” says Ned Wigglesworth of California Common Cause.

Meanwhile, another roundup of outrageous ads is featured today on Slate, which differs from our pick on the most negative ad of the year. They give their “slime award” it to Vernon Robinson, running to unseat Democratic congressman Brad Miller in North Carolina. One Robinson ad, below, is called “an act of political Tourette’s.”

Who wins? B&C reports that CBS, Clear Channel and Gannett are the big winners in all of this ad spending. Even though broadcasters’ share of the advertising pie is declining, the more than $3 billion spend is so massive it doesn’t seem to make any difference.

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