Record Local Cable Ad Spending in Battleground State Senate Elections

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Viamedia has found that one common pattern amongst the victorious senate candidates in many of the battleground states was their use of local cable advertising.

This conclusion comes after data was received regarding political advertising purchased on more than 60 multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) of various sizes in more than 70 markets served by Viamedia throughout the country.  

2016 political ad sales in certain “battleground” states won by Republican senators show that Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s successful re-election campaign outspent that of his opponent with 86% of all cable ad dollars spent by Ohio’s two Senate candidates from the Portman campaign.  In Florida, Sen. Rubio’s victorious campaign outspent that of his Democratic rival, Rep. Patrick Murphy, 59% to 41%.   In Pennsylvania, Sen. Pat Toomey’s successful campaign outspent that of his Democratic opponent 94% to 6%. Almost 100% of all cable advertising in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race was spent by Sen. Richard Burr’s successful re-election effort in Viamedia markets.

In other states, won by Democrat senators, Viamedia’s political ad sales indicate that Catherine Cortez Masto outspent Joe Heck on cable TV 72% to 28% in her successful race in Nevada, while Michael Bennet in Colorado, Richard Blumenthal in Connecticut, Brian Schatz in Hawaii and Charles Schumer in New York each accounted for nearly all of the total cable ad spending in their respective victories.  

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in geo-targeted TV ad spending from ‘down-ballot’ candidates, PACs and issues advertisers,” said Mark Lieberman, Viamedia president & CEO.  “Successful political advertisers during this unprecedented election cycle have embraced the uniqueness of the data and geo-targeting capability of local cable to reach the right voters effectively.”

According to the 2016 ad buys, 47% of all cable TV political ad spending came from issues advertisers — PACs and other organizations; 38% has come from down-ballot campaigns, primarily for the Senate and House; 9% has come from the presidential campaigns; and 6% reflected spending by PACs on behalf of presidential campaigns.

By comparison, in the same Viamedia markets in 2012, 45% of all cable TV political ad spending came from issues advertisers and PACs – including PAC spending on behalf of the presidential campaigns; 44% came from down-ballot campaigns; and 11% was from the presidential campaigns.

“While the Clinton presidential campaign and pro-Clinton PACs outspent Trump significantly on local cable advertising by 9-to-1 across the country in our markets, this just wasn’t enough to overcome the earned (free) media strategy adopted by the populist Trump campaign,” added Lieberman.

The 2016 election season proved robust for cable TV advertising overall. 

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