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Winning the Vote: Campaign Ad Spending
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January 25, 2008

It's no secret that during the campaign season the candidates are pulling out all the stops — and a lot of cash — in order to win your vote. Indeed, the 2008 campaign season is breaking the record for political advertising — a record set in 2004.

But what are the viewers of these ads really getting from all that advertising?

Consider the stats below:

  • Spending on TV ads 2008: an estimated $2.5 billion. That's two-thirds more than the 1.6 billion they spent in 2004, which set the previous record.

  • The Presidential race will account for at least 1/3 of the total — some $800 million.

  • If you'd watched every single ad that the candidates ran Before the Iowa caucuses it would have taken more than 15 days.

  • Scholars found that local TV news coverage in 2004 spent just 86 seconds on each political story — much less than on weather, sports, and crime. And nearly half of all campaign reporting was of the "horse-race" standings.
Take a journey through campaign ads of the past, learn how to fact-check current ads online and then tell us what's getting your attention this campaign season on the blog.

Campaign Ad History

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Published on January 25, 2008.

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References and Reading:
Campaign Ad Spending and Campaign Coverage

The Invisible Primary—invisible No Longer
A study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

The State of the News Media, 2007
A study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism documenting news coverage in online, print, television and radio, both local and national.

"Dash for cash as Super Tuesday looms," THE AUSTRALIAN, Tom Baldwin and Tim Reid | January 12, 2008

"Political television advertising to reach $3 billion," CNN, October 15, 2007

"After spending in N.H., Iowa, money may be tight," THE BOSTON GLOBE, Brian C. Mooney, January 6, 2008

"TV Stations in New Hampshire, Iowa Cash In on Early-Vote Status,", Christopher Stern, December 13, 2007

The Campaign Legal Center
The Campaign Legal Center is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization which works in the areas of campaign finance and elections, political communication and government ethics. The group monitors campaign advertising on the public airwaves. Policy Director Meredith McGehee and Executive Director J. Gerald Hebert regularly blog on campaign issue news.

Fact Checking the Campaign Ads is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania that aims to monitor the accuracy of major national candidates' statements and rhetoric. Veteran journalist Brooks Jackson oversees the election coverage.

The Fact-Checker
Run by veteran journalist Michael Dobbs, The Fact-Checker is a project of the WASHINGTON POST that publishes research evaluating and providing background and context to candidate statements and popular political stories.

Politifact and Truth-0-Meter
Politifact is an extensively cross-referenced, fact-checking resource run as a joint project by the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES and CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY.

"Fact and Fiction on the Campaign Trail," December 2, 2007
THE NEW YORK TIMES' Public Editor Clark Hoyt analyzes the facts behind several high-profile campaign speeches.

History of Campaign Ads

This PBS Web site for the Emmy-winning program includes an extensive timeline of television advertising and commentators on the art and science of campaign ad strategy.

The Living Room Candidate
This collection of TV ads from the American Museum of the Moving Image covers the years 1952-2004. Ads are grouped not only by year, but by issue and type of commercial.

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