O'BRIEN: End of political smack talk is almost here

Posted: Oct. 29, 2012 5:53 pm Updated: Sep. 19, 2014 10:15 am

While watching the 10 o'clock news on Friday night, an advertisement came on for one of our area health care providers. Just a few seconds into the ad, I was waiting for the attack.

"I love these guys because the other guys stink," I expected the ad to tell me.

Of course, the ad went nothing like that. It touted how great the facility is and how it helped a person get over their injury. But can you blame me for expecting a WWE-type line of smack to be laid down before I found out what the weather was going to be like?

It's gotten to the point where I expect the Trix bunny and the Lucky Charms leprechaun to throw down over whether or not Trix are for kids or if Lucky Charms are really magically delicious while I'm watching cartoons with my kids.

If you're weary of the political ads that have dominated the local air waves over the last few weeks, I've got good news and bad news. The bad news: The attack ads aren't going to stop. The good news: Election Day is only a week away, meaning we can get back to our normal ad cycle of automobile, fast food and fertilizer ads in America's Heartland.

How many political ads are we watching these days? I knew it was a lot, so I decided to take a random newscast and track how many political ads we're being hit with as the election nears.

During WGEM's 10 o'clock news last Friday, there were 15 ads from the start of the news block to before the sports segment ended the newscast. Of those ads, only five were non-political ads. There was the one ad for the health care provider, two were for local car dealerships, one for the Illinois Lottery and another for a sale happening in rural Missouri.

Of the 10 political ads, six were attack ads. President Obama was attacked twice. Illinois state senate candidates John Sullivan and Randy Frese were each attacked and the only two ads dealing with an Iowa race were attack ads against Larry Kruse, who is running for a state senate seat.

The six attack ads were actually lower than the average we're used to seeing, according to the Washington Post. The newspaper is tracking how much money is spent on the presidential race. Between the Obama and Romney camps, they had spent $665 million as of Friday. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, and his supporters had spent $348 million, with 91 percent of that going to what the newspaper termed "negative ads." Obama and his supporters had spent $317 million, with 85 percent of that spending on negative ads.

Because Iowa is considered a swing state and our television market includes southeast Iowa, we're getting to see a lot of the back and forth between the Obama and Romney campaigns. According to the Washington Post, the parties have spent nearly $500,000 in this market as of Friday. The Post shows that $485,520 was spent on 2,528 ads in the market. While impressive, those numbers pale in comparison to what the TV stations a little further north of us on the Mississippi River are raking in. The parties have spent $14 million on just over 23,000 ads in the Davenport, Iowa, area. Iowa is sixth in spending in the presidential race, with $45 million having been devoted there so far.

Who really knows if all of these attack ads are working? We probably won't know until after next Tuesday.

As a pro wrestling fan, I'll miss the smack. But I'll welcome it again in 2016.



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