Even as small-business owners dicker over which presidential candidate would best serve commerce, both campaigns have already bolstered at least one sector of the local economy.
A study from the Wisconsin Advertising Project ranked Las Vegas No. 3 in the nation for the number of campaign advertisements aired on local television in the week following both parties’ conventions. The candidates and their parties and advocates showed 1,215 ads on TV here after their late-summer crowning galas.
Denver, with 1,360 ads, came in at No. 1, while Detroit captured No. 2, with 1,327 spots. Two other Michigan cities — Grand Rapids and Flint — rounded out the top five, with 1,197 ads and 1,095 commercials, respectively.
Credit the big ad buys to Nevada’s designation as a swing state capable of tipping the electoral balance in a skintight election, said David Damore, an associate professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Dropping dollars on Las Vegas TV stations also makes economic sense: Investing locally means a candidate can reach 75 percent of Nevada’s population, Damore said, whereas blanketing other states with ads would require hitting several media markets.
The ad spending couldn’t come at a better time for local stations, said Lisa Howfield, general manager of KVBC-TV Channel 3, the local NBC affiliate. That’s because the slumping economy has meant fewer ad buys from revenue mainstays in the automotive and furniture industries.
Howfield didn’t have specific numbers comparing gains in political buys with declines in car and furniture spots, but she said campaign spending eases the sales falloff in other areas.
"Does it make it (lost revenue) up? No. But I can tell you that it helps a lot," Howfield said. "We’re grateful for every penny."
Still, Howfield said she’s noticed fewer ad buys altogether from both sides than she saw in 2004 and 2000.
The drop in spending likely comes from a renewed focus on person-to-person, grass-roots campaigning, Damore said.
"People TiVo, people go online, people go other places where TV messages don’t really reach an audience as they would have even eight years ago," Damore said. "So both sides are putting money into ground-game operations. They’re returning to the old-style mobilization politics that sort of fell out of favor with the rise in mass media."
A change in strategy could also visit broadcasters following the election.
After the political ads leave the airwaves, station executives will have to grapple with that ongoing downturn in car and furniture advertising.
"We have to start changing the way we look at how advertising is done," Howfield said. "We have to stop being so reliant on one or two industries. It’s a very difficult time, and it’s forcing us to do business differently. We need to find other industries that could benefit from our media."
Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at email@example.com or 702-380-4512.