I don't know about you, but I have nightmares about Rand Paul, Sharron Angle and Jerry Brown as a result of the onslaught of political ads on television these past few weeks. And, with less than a week to go, there literally isn't enough time in the day on some television stations to meet the demand for political advertising.
The din of democracy must have the Founding Fathers rolling over in their graves! TV Ad Week, a trade publication, estimates that $2 billion dollars will be spent on political ads that air on local television stations throughout the country. And, in many cases, they have generated a great deal of buzz among possible voters.
The 2010 midterm elections appear to be this year's break out hit "Reality Show."
Elections will be held for 37 Senate and 37 gubernatorial seats, and the entire House of Representatives, 435 seats. No one seems immune from the reach of political advertising this year. This is especially good news for TV stations that were clobbered by the economic downturn and are now making out like bandits. Especially since TV Ad Week estimates another $1 billion will be spent on so-called "issue" advertisements.
No doubt reflecting the polarization of the country, many campaign commercials have taken on a more negative tone this election year. In fact, there is a consistency in messaging across the country for candidates from each party. "ObamaCare is socialized medicine,” a Republican claim, while many Democrats say that their opponents want to "privatize Social Security."
What is most alarming it the trend toward personal attacks. For instance, one ad attacked Rand Paul for "worshipping the god Aqua Buddha," while another questioned how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid earned his wealth. There is no such thing as "you went too far" in political advertising.
Of course, political advertising has gone viral, and it is paying off big time for Internet companies. Whether on TV or on You Tube, candidates want a message that breaks through the political noise and connects with voters. The results can be a bit outrageous.
For instance, West Virginia's Democratic candidate for the Senate, Joe Manchin, fired a bullet through "Obama's Cap-and-Trade Bill."
Nevada's Republican candidate for the Senate, Sharron Angle, has an ad that shows evil looking young men when complaining about Senator Harry Reid's position on immigration.
Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak, holding a bag of dog poop, compares cleaning up after his dog to cleaning up his opponent's economic mess.
Polls indicate that most Americans say they are against negative ads. In fact, a recent Rasmussen poll shows that 58% of those surveyed said they would “vote for the other candidate” because of a negative poll. But political consultants know that negative ads do work. And these ads can be a decisive blow in a close race. One pundit quipped, “Every dollar spent on a positive ad is wasted!”
Come Wednesday the intensity, the insanity, of political advertising will go into hibernation. Viagra and Tums will return to prominence, a welcome relief. But, with the explosion of media outlets across all platforms, and the increasingly enormous amounts of money pouring into political campaigns, get ready for the 2012 elections!
Joe Peyronnin has been an award-winning producer and senior executive in broadcast journalism for 40 years at CBS News, Fox News and Telemundo/NBC News. Since January 2006 he has worked as an investor and corporate adviser to digital media content and software companies. He is also a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and FoxNews.com's "The Strategy Room," where he writes and comments about politics, business and media.