Politicians on TV? What fun! [UPDATED]Published 10:06am Monday, September 17, 2012 Updated 12:13pm Monday, September 17, 2012
I’m glad that, through television commercials, I have been well-informed about the North Dakota Senate race between Democrat Heidi Heitkamp (thinks Obama is “amazing”) and Republican Rick Berg (has “gone Washington”). Based on the information I have gleaned in between my favorite shows, I am now fully prepared to make my decision.
Wait, I don’t live in North Dakota. The race I’m voting on for U.S. Senate is between Democratic incumbent Amy Kloubuchar and Republican Kurt Bills (and has anyone even heard of that guy.)
In other words, having to sit through those commercials is about a much a waste of my time as cleaning my daughter’s toyroom (because it will be messy in a day.) How I long for a furniture commercial, or one of those really bad ones from that car wash guy.
At a newspaper conference last week, a person representing newspapers throughout the state met with one of the people who buy media for politicians. After a spirited plea on our part, the answer from the guy was simple: Get over it, newspapers. You’re never going to get a lot of political advertising. TV ads move the needle.
Never mind that political advertising on television is intrusive, while political ads in newspapers allow you to read them at your leisure, or even ignore them if you so choose. Never mind that the vast majority of our readers are also voters, and typically well-informed ones. Never mind that newspapers typically take the time to get in-depth information from candidates.
We don’t move the needle, and because of that, newspapers will always get only a tiny piece of that big political pie.
So who are these people who move the so-called needle? I can just picture a guy watching TV and eating breakfast in, say, Hankinson, N.D. He has it in his head: I will be voting for Heidi Heitkamp. But wait, a television commercial comes on and claims that Heitkamp will create “more debt.” Hmmm, he says to himself while rubbing his chin. I don’t want more debt, so I’ve changed my mind and will vote for Rick Berg. He takes another bite of cereal. A commercial comes on that claims Rick Berg will do away with Medicare. Wait, my grandmother is on Medicare, he says. So now I am officially voting for Heitkamp. Until the next commercial…
It’s hard for me to believe that people like this actually exist anymore. I get that not everyone does not podcast every Rush Limbaugh show (conservatives) or DVR every Ed Schultz show (liberals). However, it seems that most people have a pretty good idea of who they are voting for in this black-and-white, right-and-wrong, no-one-dare-compromise political world we live in. As columnist George Will put it last week, “There are no more undecideds.”
All of this, of course, doesn’t matter. Television commercials move the needle, studies show. So from now until the Nov. 6, be prepared to be barraged.
By the way, I can assure you that a DVR, which allows you to fast-forward through television commercials, is a great investment.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s Publisher. Email him firstname.lastname@example.org