Candidates running 1,000 more commercials than opponent translated to only 0.19% advantage in 2004

June 5, 2015

"The data show that in state and national elections that are well-financed, television ad buys barely matter. After the 2004 election, political scientists tried to measure the effectiveness of campaign commercials. They found that if one candidate ran 1,000 more commercials than his opponent in a county — a huge disproportion — that translated into a paltry 0.19 percent advantage in the vote." [see source 2] [2]: "The 2008 presidential election was a historic one, and the air war played some part in earning it that designation. When one examines comparable time periods, advertising in 2008 was greater in volume than in 2004 and reached a greater portion of the country than did advertising in 2004. Moreover, the advertising advantage of the Democratic candidate grew, as Obama’s campaign took the unprecedented step of opting out of general election public funding, allowing the campaign to raise huge sums of money to spend on advertising. Was that advertising effective in moving votes? In short, yes. Our findings suggest that the 30-second political spot—in spite of the rise of online campaigning and the increased attention given to face-to-face campaigning—is still an effective way to increase one’s share of the vote." (320)[LC: table 3, page 316 is where the 0.19 percent advantage figure comes from. This essentially refutes the argument in the original NYT source. They only pay attention to the 2004 data, but data from the 2008 election shows that campaign ads can have a significant effect on the election outcome.][1]"After the 2006 election, Sean Trende constructed a graph comparing the incumbent campaign spending advantages with their eventual margins of victory. There was barely any relationship between more spending and a bigger victory." [for graph, see][1] "In May and June of 2012, the Obama campaign unleashed a giant ad barrage against Mitt Romney, but as political scientist John Sides wrote in The Times’s FiveThirtyEight blog recently, the ads had no lasting effect." [see source 3][1] original source: Brooks, David. "The Philosophy of Data." The New York Times. A19. February 5, 2013.[2] Franz, Michael M. and Travis N. Ridout. "Political Advertising and Persuasion in the 2004 and 2008 Presidential Elections." American Politics Research 38:2. March 2010. 303-329.[3] Sides, John. "Were Obama’s Early Ads Really the Game Changer?" Five Thirty Eight blog. New York Times. December 29, 2012.

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