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Cleveland is television ground zero for 2012 election

July 10, 2012 by Scott Bomboy


If television ad spending is a barometer of what matters in the 2012 election, the city of Cleveland looks like ground zero in the battle for the White House.

Ohio is a key swing state for determining if President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney wins the November election, and it looks like no dollar will go unspent to gain an edge among voters.

According to an article in Media Post News, political spending on television advertising in Cleveland only trails Los Angeles nationally.

To put that in perspective, Los Angeles is the second-biggest TV market in the country, after New York.

Cleveland is the 18th biggest market in the country, but it is taking in more money than New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia for political advertising.

Likewise, Tampa and Orlando are outpacing other TV markets, since Florida is another top swing state.

Tampa is fourth in terms of political spending, although it is the 14th in terms of viewers. Conversely, Philadelphia is the fourth-biggest market for viewers but only ranks 10th for political spending, since Pennsylvania isn’t seen as a strong swing state.

Orlando is also ranked ninth nationally for TV political spending, even though it is just the 19th largest market for viewers  in the country.

More shockingly, Columbus is now ranked eight for political spending, even though it is just the 32nd biggest TV market in the nation, according to Nielsen.

A Monday article on the Crain’s Cleveland Business website details the political blitz on the way to Ohio voters.

One TV station general manager estimated the two campaigns could spend $30 million just in Cleveland after the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions. The total for northeastern Ohio could approach $50 million.

Crain's says Harmelin Media of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., estimates that there could be $50 million in post-convention spending on political TV ads, just in Cleveland.

In 2008, candidates spend $21 million in Cleveland, as one in every four ads that appeared on a local television station in the Ohio city was a political ad.

The Pew Research Center says television nationally could take in an astounding $3.2 billion for 2012 in political advertising, smashing the record of $2.3 billion set in 2010.

And of that record $3.2 billion, about $2.6 billion is heading to local television stations.

The Citizens United case decided by the Supreme Court now allows unlimited spending by corporations and large political action committees on national elections.

Pew, however, says a huge amount of that local television spending is targeted for swing states, so the influx of cash could only affect a handful of states.

Currently, seven of the top 10 markets for political ads are in swing states.

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