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Politics by Media

by on October 19, 2010

Let’s return to the topic of campaign politics.  You might have noticed some of it; it’s October 19th, and early voting for the November 2nd election in several states.  Here’s a thought, from the esteemed Howard Fineman:

At this point in any election cycle, it is mandatory to wonder aloud whether even the American voter — as habituated to TV as he or she is — hasn’t reached the saturation point, making the ads somehow counterproductive. “It’s overkill, absolutely,” says Rep. Bob Brady, a savvy but proudly old-school politician who runs the Democrats’ still-formidable Democratic machine in Philadelphia. “A lot of the money being spent is wasted, totally wasted.”

But every cycle it is just as traditional for consultants to offer the same answer: they need to spend more than ever, especially as Election Day nears, to reach the small number of undecided voters — who must be living in caves with no cable — and to shore up turnout among the already committed. It’s like watering a flower pot with a fire hose, but consultants and the television industry love it, and the donors, secret and public (ands who don’t know a precinct list from a pinot noir) have been convinced that this kind of spending is a best practice.

I’m given the impression – I’ve talked to quite a few people – that people are sick of the political ads.  I’ve heard a lot of people say they are tired of the ads; I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say they want more.  Frankly, I think it pushes away, and turns off, voters.  I make calls all day long to encourage people to vote, and I think that’s a somewhat more effective, and less intrusive, method to encourage political participation.  I would also guess that phone calls to some ‘undecided’ (?) voters would push them away from one party, toward another.  I understand and appreciate the idea that a representative needs to be seen on television – good – but I think there’s a point of too much, of inundation, where we are soaking flower pots with fire hoses.

Do you get anything more than anger out of the TV ads?

From → Politics

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