Political spending going up, up and away


Custom research outfit PQ Media sees a primordial political soup perfectly suited to destroying all previous spending records for the category. Among them are the first election without a sitting president or VP since 1928, hot issues, a divided electorate and effective campaign fund-raising. The result is expected to be a 64% increase in spending over the 2004 election cycle, to 4.5B. That would amount to a 43.3% increase over 2006, which itself broke records despite its lack of a presidential campaign.

Generally, when one party has an incumbent/veep on the ticket, it suppresses or eliminates primary competition, limiting the possibility of a free-for-all primary brawl to the party out of power. This time both parties have several serious and well-heeled candidates making a pitch for the nomination, a situation which is already fueling spending in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and which can be expected to reach a fever pitch in the run-up to the massive and geographically diverse population of conventions delegates that will be up for grabs on Super Duper Tuesday, 2/5/08.

Of the 4.5B, 3.03B is expected by PQ to be aimed at broadcast, print, cable, internet and outdoor, with the rest going to direct mail, PR, promotions and events. The 32.8% share grabbed by the marketing side is said to represent a share increase and is attributed to "more sophisticated databases that allow direct mail strategies to be targeted to specific regions in battleground states…" It is also expected that broadcast television will be saturated, with run-off benefiting other media. Still, broadcast TV will snag over half the cash, with a 51.3% share.

Here’s how spending by electoral category breaks down: Presidential 37.1%; Senate 19.4%, House 21.4%, Governor 4%, Local 18%.

RBR/TVBR observation: The key, first and foremost, is to be located in a battleground state or district. Of course there is little you can do about this — you’re either there or you aren’t. For radio AND television, inventory management is going to be critical, but for radio in particular it will be even more important to make sure you’re well positioned to catch the television run-off that we know is coming in numerous locales. Plan carefully.