The conventions are over, and there are 52 days until the presidential election. Between then and now, there will be three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate, as well as an untold number of public appearances and press conferences held by each candidate. And there will be ads, lots and lots of ads.
Total spending in the looming TV ad war is expected to swell to $1.1 billion in the next two months.
Of that $1.1 billion, Kantar/Campaign Media Analysis Group, a company which tracks campaign ad spending, reports that just over a third of that amount has been spent thus far.
Yet, Pennsylvania, a traditional battleground state that saw a total of approximately 135 presidential ads in the 2008 election, is not expected to see much of an influx at all.
In fact, this entire election season has been void of any such political advertising in general. This is perhaps due to the domination of President Barack Obama’s campaign, which has led former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign in Pennsylvania since mid-June 2011, according to an average compiled by online polling site Real Clear Politics.
The site used the spread of several polls to show Obama has a 7.7 percent lead in the Keystone State.
Michael Berkman, Penn State professor and director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Political Science, said he feels these polling numbers, coupled with the notion of rational spending in the Romney campaign, are largely to blame for the lack of political advertising in Pennsylvania.
“Campaigns do not have limited resources and so they must make strategic decisions about where to invest,” he wrote in an email.
At this time, the Romney campaign doesn’t seem to be investing many resources in Pennsylvania, and the polls confirm that the state is a “difficult one for Republicans,” Berkman wrote.
Due to this current political environment, the Romney campaign has remained largely quiet on Pennsylvania televisions. The campaigns last ad ran this past April, and was, at that time, meant to serve as a final push to knock former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum out of the race for the GOP nomination — not to promote Romney’s campaign against Obama’s.
As a result of its waning competition and consistent lead, the Obama campaign and a pro-Obama super PAC have also remained largely dormant, spending only a small amount on ads in Pennsylvania.
Despite the Romney campaign’s outlook in Pennsylvania, conservative groups in favor of the former Massachusetts governor have spent close to $20 million.
Penn State College Republican chairman Jordan Harris said he believes Romney’s lack of advertising in Pennsylvania is temporary.
“I think he has re-directed his efforts to other swing states, such as Colorado and Wisconsin for the moment,” said Harris. “The board is very large, so to focus on states that Obama has already won just doesn’t make sense.”
Obama won Pennsylvania over McCain in the 2008 presidential election.
Yet, Harris said Romney still has a plan that includes Pennsylvania and predicts the state will begin seeing a natural increase in political advertisements as November draws closer.
“Romney will try and build up a wave of support and will try and peak at the right time — particularly after the first couple of debates - before making the final push to win the western and southeastern districts of Pennsylvania that still have not made up their minds,” Harris said.
For now, however, Penn State student Mike Boddy (senior-philosophy) said he doesn’t mind the lack of political ads in his home state.
“In past years, it has turned into this huge smear campaign,” Boddy said. “It’s a lot less of ‘Here’s why I can get the job done’ and a lot more of ‘Here’s why the other guy can’t.’ Not having to deal with all of that for once has definitely been less annoying.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.