In the 2016 election cycle, battleground Senate seats saw record spending in local cable advertising. Viamedia, the largest independent cable TV ad management company, found that there was a common pattern among winning Senate campaigns in battleground states and the use of local cable TV advertising.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s successful reelection campaign outspent Democrat Ted Strickland on advertising – 86% of all cable ad dollars spent by the two Senate candidates was from the Portman campaign.
In Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio’s victorious campaign outspent his Democratic rival, Rep. Patrick Murphy, 59% to 41%.
In Pennsylvania, Sen. Pat Toomey’s successful campaign outspent Democratic opponent Katie McGinty 94% to 6% – a change from 2010 when Toomey’s campaign spent only a small portion on cable ads.
Almost 100% of all cable advertising in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race was spent by Sen. Richard Burr’s successful reelection effort.
On the other side of the aisle, Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto outspent Republican Joe Heck on cable TV 72% to 28% in her successful Senatorial race in Nevada. Additionally, Michael Bennet in Colorado, Richard Blumenthal in Connecticut, Brian Schatz in Hawaii and Chuck Schumer in New York each accounted for nearly all of the total cable ad spending in their respective victories.
The company uses data from 60 multichannel video programming distributors in more than 70 markets.
How Local Cable Ad Spending Changed from the 2012 to the 2016 Election
According to the 2016 ad buys, 47% of all cable TV political ad spending came from issues advertisers – PACs and other organizations; 38% has come from down-ballot campaigns, primarily for the Senate and House; 9% has come from the presidential campaigns and 6% reflected spending by PACs on behalf of presidential campaigns.
By comparison, in the same markets in 2012, 45% of all cable TV political ad spending came from issues advertisers and PACs – including PAC spending on behalf of the presidential campaigns; 44% came from down-ballot campaigns and 11% was from the presidential campaigns.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in geo-targeted TV ad spending from ‘down-ballot’ candidates, PACs and issues advertisers,” said Mark Lieberman, Viamedia president & CEO. “Successful political advertisers during this unprecedented election cycle have embraced the uniqueness of the data and geo-targeting capability of local cable to reach the right voters effectively.”