Salsa the Blog

Political Ads: High Cost, Low Return

This past week, the Republican Party released a list of 47 Democratic members of the House of Representatives that they believe they can defeat in the 2022 midterm elections. Here is the list of representatives: 

AZ-01 – Tom O’Halleran

AZ-02 – Ann Kirkpatrick

CA-03 – John Garamendi

CA-10 – Josh Harder

CA-45 – Katie Porter

CA-49 – Mike Levin

CT-05 – Jahana Hayes

FL-07 – Stephanie Murphy

FL-13 – Charlie Crist

GA-06 – Lucy McBath

GA-07 – Carolyn Bourdeaux

IA-03 – Cindy Axne

IL-06 – Sean Casten

IL-14 – Lauren Underwood

IL-17 – Cheri Bustos

KS-03 – Sharice Davids

ME-02 – Jared Golden

MI-08 – Elissa Slotkin

MI-11 – Haley Stevens

MN-02 – Angie Craig

MN-03 – Dean Phillips

NC-02 – Deborah K. Ross

NH-01 – Chris Pappas

NJ-03 – Andy Kim

NJ-05 – Josh Gottheimer

NJ-07 – Tom Malinowski

NJ-11 – Mikie Sherrill

NV-03 – Susie Lee

NV-04 – Steven Horsford

NY-03 – Tom Suozzi

NY-18 – Sean Patrick Maloney

NY-19 – Antonio Delgado

OH-13 – Tim Ryan

OR-04 – Peter A. DeFazio

OR-05 – Kurt Schrader

PA-07 – Susan Wild

PA-08 – Matt Cartwright

PA-17 – Conor Lamb

TX-07 – Lizzie Fletcher

TX-15 – Vicente Gonzalez

TX-28 – Henry Cuellar

TX-32 – Colin Allred

TX-34 – Filemon Vela

VA-02 – Elaine Luria

VA-07 – Abigail Spanberger

WA-08 – Kim Schrier

WI-03 – Ron Kind

Although my Representative is not on this list, it made me think about all the people who live in these districts that will no doubt be bombarded with political advertisements between now and November 2022. Political ads have accompanied political campaigns from the very start, but I can’t help but feel they have gotten much more intrusive as the years have passed. Every time I hear a smear advertisement spouting exaggerations about an opposing candidate on the radio, or see a full-page ad in the local paper with just the face of the candidate and their slogan, I think to myself: is this really changing anyone’s opinion? With these questions in mind, I decided to look at the data and see if the billions of dollars spent on excess campaign ads really change election results.

After conducting my research, the verdict I came to is that there is little evidence supporting that campaign ads provide any marginal shift in election results. Yes, you read that right. You get bombarded with calls and TV, Radio, and Newspaper ads for very little reason. If you’re like me, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why are billions of dollars being spent on things that will have little effect on the outcome of elections!?”. Well, the experts say that these people and political parties have so much money to spend, that even if the ads have the tiniest influence on election results it’s worth it for them. Statistics from 2012 showed that there are about 800,000 undecided voters in battleground states (Which receive the most ads), and the Democratic and Republican Party both spent about a billion dollars each on marketing these states. That means they spent about $1,000 per persuadable voter! That seems crazy to me, I’d rather they just give me that $1,000 in cash…then I would definitely vote for that candidate! In all seriousness, I think it might be time to take a look at how we run advertising for campaigns in the United States. It seems like there is a lot of money being used for useless means. 

By Andrew Kolar