In a bit of a political experiment, that’s exactly the question we set out to answer.
The NewsHour happened to see 30 minutes of late afternoon television programming on the NBC affiliate in Richmond, Virginia a few weeks ago, and we collected a tally of the political spots that ran in between snippets of weather reports on the local news and Access Hollywood.
In the video above, we’ve recreated the ads that Virginians saw that June day, in the order they aired. Some, as you can see, were on more than once. Some were funded by the presidential campaigns, while others came from outside groups or super PACs. The Senate contest received nearly as much air time as the White House race. All but one of the ads were entirely negative in tone.
The tally was taken before the Supreme Court’s landmark health care decision, so many of the spots focused on the law.
The idea was to give voters everywhere a sense of just what it’s like to watch television in the states that are going to determine whether President Obama or Mitt Romney win the election on Nov. 6.
Virginia and its 13 Electoral College votes is a top prize, and advertising is less expensive in the Richmond area, which is one reason people there are being absolutely inundated with television spots so early in the election season.
So, what’s next? We’re aiming to create a series of Battleground Diaries. And you can help.
It’s simple – snap a picture of your television with your mobile device when a political ad airs, and jot down the time of night and the channel you’re watching. Then, share your impressions. Were all the ads negative? Were they all funded by super PACs? Did some ads repeat? Which one was the most effective?
If you live in one of the battleground states highlighted in yellow below, keep an eye on the ads you’re seeing. Stay in touch with us, and let us know what ads are airing and when.
Cassie M. Chew shot and edited this video.