In Off Year, Political Ads Could Still Reach $1 Billion

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By: E&P Staff

There’s no presidential race, and Congressional elections aren’t happening until November of 2010 — but spending on political advertising this year could reach more than $1 billion, according to one expert.

Evan Tracey, founder and president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, said issue advertising, some hot races in an otherwise-off political year and the effects of the “permanent” presidential campaign could bump spending to as high as $1 billion.

But even if that ad spend is as low as $400 million to $700 million, that would be a record for an off political year, Tracey said at the Media Financial Management Association’s convention in Atlanta. His comments were first reported on tvnewsday.com.

Advocacy advertising is “headed for a record year this year,” Tracey said, helped by new lobbying rules that hamper the quick transition of public officials to lobbyists.

Both parties are still acting as if the presidential campaign was still on, Tracey added. “The DNC (Democratic National Committee) isn’t resting,” he said. “They are still in campaign mode and willing to spend on advertising even in an off year.”

There are also some hotly contested actual campaigns in 2009, he noted, such as Terry McAuliffe’s run governor in Virginia and the unexpectedly competitive re-election race by Gov. Tom Corzine in New Jersey. Add to that more than 600 mayoral campaigns across the U.S.

All this suggests 2010 will be a big year for political advertising, Tracey contended. Republicans in particular will ramp up spending.

“Republicans won’t just try to cut their losses,” he said. “They’ve gone through two blood-letting elections. There isn’t a lot of low-hanging fruit for Democrats to target. There are 50 to 60 House races that will be in a very competitive landscape, so more dollars will flow there.”

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