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The campaign ad ‘arms race’

John Dimsdale Sep 1, 2010
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Kai Ryssdal:As David Frum was reminding us just a couple of moments ago, consumers are feeling fairly cash poor these days. Political candidates? Money to burn — at least when it comes to television ads for the upcoming mid-term elections.

Our Washington Bureau chief John Dimsdale has more now on why this is shaping up to be another record year for campaign spending.


John Dimsdale: :Candidates have already spent over $800 million on TV ads this year. That’s $50 million more than the record pace set in the 2008 presidential election. One reason is the large number of competitive races.

Evan Tracey: It’s really almost like an arms race at this point

Evan Tracey tracks campaign ad spending at Campaign Media Analysis Group. He says the Obama Administration’s agenda has attracted some enthusiastic, well-heeled, support and opposition.

Tracey: Between health care and financial reform and even potential legislation like cap-and-trade and card check, that’s certainly gotten business more motivated to fund candidates that are going to come to Washington, and if not repeal some of this legislation, at least try and pull it back some.

And businesses are taking advantage of fewer limits on campaign ad spending. The Supreme Court earlier this year lifted those caps. And Jed Lewison with the Daily Kos blog says the court also relaxed disclosure requirements.

Jed Lewison: Any group that didn’t want to have its name attached to an ad, now can put an ad out there under a different name. That frees up a certain amount of money.

Add to that the fact that states will redraw the lines for congressional and state legislative districts next year. Each party wants its governor to oversee the redistricting process. What you end up with, according to one long-time tracker of campaign money is a perfect storm for fundraising, even in a down economy.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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