Ads slow in key election contests

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By: Joe Strupp

As the primary season begins, local papers hoping to reel in campaign ads may not like what we’re hearing from the first two showdown states. Voting nears in Iowa and New Hampshire this month, but you might not know it by the unusually low campaign advertising being purchased in newspapers there.

“We have had the candidates in here more than we’ve had any of their ads in here,” says Ann-Marie Forrester, retail advertising director for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor. “With the primary voting coming up (on Jan. 27), I would expect there to be more of it.” At The Union-Leader in Manchester, “it seems like we are seeing a little less than usual for a presidential year,” admits George Stachokas, the paper’s vice president of advertising who has 20 years of local experience. Stachokas says the paper is having to reach out to advertisers as it prepares an annual 16-page pre-election tab for Jan. 13.

In Iowa, which holds its caucuses on Jan. 19, the situation is similar. “Not a whole lot is materializing,” says Dan Collin, advertising director for the Waterloo Courier. The Sioux City Journal received its first political ad of the season ? from the Howard Dean campaign ? just before New Year’s Day. At the Des Moines Register, Laura Hollingsworth, vice president of advertising, expresses disappointment with the ad turnout so far in the presidential race, although ads for state and local candidates are up 25% over four years ago.

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