Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How Much is $100M anyway?

Ed Kilgore sends some sympathy to the poor TV watchers of Florida at the news that Rick Scott intends to spend $100M to get himself re-elected governor.

It's almost certainly overkill, no? I'd imagine that diminishing returns starts setting in far below that mark, and most of the rest of the money is going to be wasted. Remember, we're talking about an incumbent governor in a general election: just how many voters will really be influenced by ads in that kind of election?

I actually don't know the answer to one key question about this: how would $100M for Florida rank in terms of money/voter? My sense is that it's not all that high...Linda McMahon just spent $50M in Connecticut, after all. Has anyone compiled a list of the highest spending per voter in statewide races?

The interesting thing to study here (and I'm not up to date on the literature, so if someone has done so I'm missing it) is whether the demise of newspapers has meant that fewer people really know anything about their state governments -- I mean, it's not as if voters ever knew very much, but perhaps they know less now. Or not! People apparently do still watch local TV news, which sometimes, I hear, does have a bit of actual news content. Presumably, the more information voters are exposed to from the news media, the less important advertising will be.

At any rate, here in Texas we have a decent chance of having a very nasty Republican primary for governor, and in those cases money almost certainly does play a big role. Should be fun.


  1. Inspired by a recent news story in which a fairly well-off office worker was caught outsourcing his labor to China, I would suggest that a better use of $100 million would be hire an overseas firm to govern the state of Florida. They would inevitably do a better job than Scott's Administration, and if he's lucky the state-wide economy would improve enough that the voters would be willing to grant him another term.

    Seriously though, is Scott trying to scare off Crist with that number? Is he trying to get some wind in his fundraising sails?

  2. One thing about Florida is that it has a high number of disparate media markets. Running for statewide office means you've got to advertise in Miami, Orlando, Tampa-St. Pete, Jacksonville... It's not like Georgia or Colorado or Washington or even New York, where one media market dominates the state.

    1. But by the same token, spots in any one of those markets should cost less than spots in the Denver or Atlanta or NYC markets, because you're reaching less people.

      I *think* (and have seen a bare modicum of evidence in favor of this position, but it's really more of an impression than anything else) that the real cost variable for TV/radio advertising is disposable income (once you normalize the number of people you're reaching). Regular advertisers will pay more to reach New Yorkers than Oregonians, so politicians have to pay more, too. (the 'discounted' rates are compared to what others would have to pay for the same time slot, not in other markets)

  3. ". . . how would $100M for Florida rank in terms of money/voter?"

    Do TV ads become diluted if they're viewed by more eyes?

  4. On a sort of related point - would love to see you do a post on the Iowa Senate primary For instance will the Rove group or its respective backlash have any impact, what role will money (particularly early money) play in winnowing the field, etc. Just seems like a test case to demonstrate what exactly constitutes the "party" and how they go about settling on a candidate.


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