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Battleground Dispatches: Ohio’s Political Ad Wars

Both presidential campaigns have their sights set on the Buckeye State. Their strategies for winning Ohio’s 18 electoral votes both involve the place where voters set their sights — television screens.

“[T]here is a tremendous amount of media saturation,” said David Cohen, a professor of political science at the University of Akron. “[T]he Obama campaign did a very, very good job in terms of defining their opponents and they were able to define Gov. Romney as somebody that really maybe didn’t share… the values of the average Ohioan.”

Since Ohio looks increasingly critical for a Romney win, his campaign has stepped up its efforts.

Take a look at some of the ad spots that have run in Ohio below.

“Made in Ohio” — Obama for America TV Ad, Oct. 19, 2012

Voices of concerned Ohio residents and a soundbite from Romney make up the bulk of this Obama advertisement. Romney is painted as out of touch with working people because of wanting some of the car companies in Detroit to go bankrupt.
“Ohio Jobs” — Romney for President TV Ad, Oct. 5, 2012

In Romney’s latest Ohio-specific ad, he begins by saying that Ohioans are asking, “Who can bring the jobs?” Romney addresses the camera directly, giving the commercial a more intimate feel for viewers. The ad is also set in a warehouse-type location that underscores his message about bringing back manufacturing and energy jobs to the state.
“Character” — Obama for America TV Ad, Oct. 15, 2012

Obama for America ran this ad featuring supporter, American hero and Ohio native son, former Sen. John Glenn. In the ad below, Glenn highlights the president’s role in the auto bailout, a key industry to the state and says that the president “means what he says.” Glenn describes that as “the Ohio way.” A more recent ad, this spot features a positive frame and no direct mention of Romney.
“Dream” — RNC/Romney for President TV Ad, Aug. 1, 2012

The auto bailout has featured prominently in campaign rhetoric, with Mr. Obama and Vice President Biden championing the plan as a decisive act that helped save an American industry. Here, the Romney campaign takes a different perspective on the bailouts effects, in relation to Ohio. (The NewsHour will have more on this issue Friday.)
“Revealed – OH” — Obama for America TV Ad, June 26, 2012

In response to the Romney job growth advertisement aimed at Ohio, the Obama campaign rolled out this spot in June that implied Romney would not stand by his word. The ad responds directly to Romney’s claim that he will right trade imbalances with China. The last line of the ad is, “Romney’s never stood up to China. All he’s ever done is send them our jobs.”
“First 100 Days: Ohio” — Romney for President TV Ad, June 22, 2012

In June, Romney rolled out a set of ads specifically geared for swing states. The ads, like the one above, featured state-specific imagery and messaging and focused mostly on the positive benefits of a potential Romney administration. The ad is no longer accessible via the Romney website or YouTube channel and it is unclear if it is still airing in Ohio.
If watching these ads has piqued your interest, you can try your hand at crafting some political advertising of your very own with the NewsHour’s Ad Libs program.

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