Weekly Obsession: It’s an ad bonanza, just not in Tennessee

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 5:45pm

It’s three weeks from the presidential election and here’s a bold prediction: Mitt Romney will easily take the state’s 11 electoral votes.

The TV networks will redden the parallelogram of Tennessee’s outline about four seconds after the polls close.

It will be, more or less, the only attention the Volunteer State’s electoral makeup will get in the 2012 season.

Electoral College complainers will bemoan that it’s same-as-it-ever-was: Issues important to Tennesseans are ignored in favor of ethanol subsidies, tax deductions for cattle or whatever else Iowans care about. But those critics are missing the upside: Being a noncompetitive state means our TVs remain free of campaign ads.

People who vacation in Florida or, for whatever reason, Ohio surely noticed the wall-to-wall ads Romney and President Obama have foisted upon the masses in more swinging states.

Here? The president’s Big Bird ad has as much chance of running on TV as Mr. Bird has getting the Republican nomination.

Indeed, just about the only ads that ever grace our airwaves are part of national buys, most notably during sporting events, especially if said sporting events involve teams from Colorado.

One of our great civic obsessions (and Obsessions, for that matter) is how Nashville stacks up with Charlotte.

In this case, the Carolinians have us trumped. According to the The Washington Post’s Ad Tracker, the two campaigns have a combined 583 ad buys in the Nashville market, totaling $180,400.

In Charlotte? There have been more than 55,000 buys, coming in at a cool $39 million.

Are there ads for anything else on TV in Charlotte? How will the people know if there is a sale at Joseph A. Bank?

The campaigns have spent $70,000 more in Birmingham, Ala., than in the Nashville market, despite Birmingham being smaller and Alabama no more likely to swing blue than Tennessee.

Not that the attention poured on a city by presidential hopefuls is any indicator of its relative worth. In New York City, a single ad has been purchased. It cost $8,470. Hope it works out for them.

The Ottumwa, Iowa, market has had nearly 10 times as many ads as Nashville — and three times the spending — and they don’t even have a TV show or a football team.

Breaking down the numbers even more, it’s apparent the only reason there are ads in Tennessee at all is a get-out-the-vote effort for Republicans in hopes of fulfilling the dream of eliminating Tennessee Democrats completely.

Sure, it’s fair to say the campaigns have combined for 583 buys and $180,400 in spending. It’s also fair to say Peyton Manning and Peggy Fleming have combined for 413 NFL touchdowns.

The president’s re-election campaign has spent exactly zero dollars in Nashville, which makes Romney’s ad buy the equivalent of installing a telephone in the bathroom. Sure, he can do it, but what’s the point?

So, no, our local affiliates don’t get to benefit from the largesse of billion-dollar campaigns.

On the other hand, we can watch our programs without suffering through the anxiety of knowing the ominous music and spooky voiceovers and grainy black-and-white footage that make up campaign ads are coming to haunt us 13 minutes every hour.

Enjoy the peace of being in a safe state. Our ad-less prime time won’t last forever. A mayoral race is just three years away.

6 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 10/24/12 at 6:02

We do have the "House Majority Committee", which is a totally false name
since it is in fact "The House hoping to become the Majority Committee"
is loading the local TV spots with ads on the 4th District Congressional
race. Democrats don't have to run ads on TV in Tenn as they get millions
of dollars in free support within these "News" networks.

By: i.am.a.taxpayer on 10/24/12 at 7:48

Sadly, the two-party system is no longer functional in Tennessee. Tennessee has always been more Republican in East Tennessee, but that is spreading throughout more of the state (fortunately not to Davidson County). For some reason, people who are not in the highest categories of wealth are voting Republican, while the ratings for almost every measure for Tennessee remain low compared to more progressive states. And, by the way, most states are more progressive in Tennessee. The Republicans will help the wealthy. Maybe they will say they are interested in helping the middle class, but decades of Republican administrations lack evidence to taht effect. If you are rich, it makes sense for you to be a Republican. Otherwise, not so much.

By: GUARDIAN on 10/24/12 at 12:18

Well of course Romney doesn't run as many ads in Tennessee..... There's enough people with common sense here to offset the dead people votes for the democrats...... Now in North Carolina this is not the case. It's harder to reach older voters there.... In FACT there are 583 registered democrats in NC 112 years of age or older...... LOL... OH WELL .....In fact that oldest guy in the world who is 114 that lives in Japan should move to America and become a democrat he might live forever...checking out the voter rolls in the good OLD USA shows there are thousands of democrats 112 or older...GUARDIAN-GOD, COUNTRY, FAMILY and FRIENDS. The American Way.

By: Mike Burch on 10/25/12 at 2:04

There is a curious collusion between the rich and the poor, and the "glue" seems to be religion. Why else would poor people vote for overseers who treat them so unjustly?

By: govskeptic on 10/25/12 at 6:20

Mike: I suggest the poor are voting many different values in this state. To suggest
it's all about religion to vote for a Republican if you are poor is so typical of a give
away Proponent that takes nothing else into consideration with their vote. The
only overseer in this election is this President who wants to change this good
country into just another one falling into the grasp of socialism or worst.

By: pswindle on 10/26/12 at 3:19

Ads are not run in TN because we are brain-dead. If someone has a R after their name, that's all that they look for.