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A Little More Politics With Your Football

ESPN will be selling more of it’s advertising to political campaigns this fall, because of high demand from candidates, political parties and super PACs (Source). Football is a ratings bonanza, so it makes sense that there would be demand by campaigns for ad time on stations like ESPN. However, not everyone is happy about the upcoming transition (Source). Personally, I won’t mind; I’ve been mixing politics and football for years by sending candidates to football games on Friday night (in Texas, it’s where the people are).

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I might be the only person in the blogosphere (or at least, one of the few) who defends negative advertising, and a recent survey by YouGov shows that voters aren’t necessarily turned off by negative ads - depending on their content. As the charts from YouGov show, voters find negative ads which point out differences between the candidates to be helpful; however, ads which criticize a candidate’s family to not be helpful (there are some other charts as well). As YouGov notes, positive ads usually only offer platitudes and little substance, whereas negative ads - more so if they’re done correctly - offer more information for voters about the candidates (because they’re telling you things about the candidate he/her wouldn’t say about themselves).

I’m not ashamed to be a fan of negative ads - with one caveat: they have to be factual. A negative that isn’t factual will not be effective and will backfire on the candidate.

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First, let me apologize for not posting much lately. Between work and changing dirty diapers, I haven’t had much time.

But I also haven’t seen much that I felt like posting about - that is, until today, when I saw the above tweet. A lot of people invested in online advertising are probably upset by the relative parsimony of campaigns when it comes to using resources for online ads, which was revealed in the study by Borrell Associates, which found that while campaigns have increased their online spending, it’s still a small part of campaign advertising activity.

However, there is no reason for campaigns to be spending more on online advertising, especially for a campaign with limited resources. While the audience on sites like Facebook is large, the costs for advertising is low and so is the click through rate on ads (Sources: here and here). Online ads can be useful, but they’re not something you want to put a lot of money into when you don’t have to.

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This is one of the reasons I enjoy NPR; they approach these questions using the data and studies available as opposed to relying on anecdotes about how people don’t like negative ads (and thus hurt a campaign). You can read the transcript of the radio program here.

(h/t: MonkeyCage)

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Etch A Sketch Starts Its Own Campaign

In the wake of comments made by Romney’s advisor, Etch A Sketch is taking advantage of all the press they’ve been getting. They’ve even got a site called ShakeItUpAmerica.net with links for voter registration and Etch A Sketch retailers.

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Attacking Negative Ads

It never fails that each election cycle there is the usual sanctimonious blather about how horrible negative ads are. As a hack, it annoys me to no end. This year an Iowa county leader is calling for a moratorium on attack ads. The New York Times has a chart of ad spending and what percentage has been negative:

There’s a reason negative ads exist: candidates aren’t going to tell you these things about themselves. And yet for all the worry over the effect of negative ads, they are not that detrimental to the body politic. Indeed, a new study suggests that negative ads are more informative and have a modest positive effect on political engagement (Source).

It’s a good thing these folks didn’t live in a more civil era.