Nation’s Airwaves Already Awash in Campaign Ads
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The Fiscal Times
April 18, 2014

From the world of the bizarre, a YouTube political ad produced by a state senator challenging long-time Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran in the June 3 GOP primary, shows a group of overweight and garishly dressed entertainers. “The Boomers,” are singing “Thad Cochran Won’t You Please Come Home?”

To the tune of “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey?” the ad for Tea Party Republican state senator Chris McDaniel declares that Cochran, 76, who is seeking a seventh term, has been in Washington “way too long” and has disappointed his constituents by supporting “that crazy health care” law and gun control.

 “Well, it’s really a shame and you’re partly to blame, Thad Cochran won’t you please come home.”

Related: Meet Thad Cochran, an Endangered Senate Republican

Cochran, who has raised $1.7 million during the first quarter of 2014 – or about four times as much money as McDaniel has raised --  is firing back with an ad of his own that takes McDaniel to task for voting in the 2003 Democratic primary while not voting in the GOP primaries in 2004 and 2008. “If Chris McDaniel doesn’t vote, why should we vote for him?” the Cochran campaign ad demands to know.

Although it is still relatively early in the 2014 political season, the nation’s airwaves have been awash in political ads for months coming from both parties – including some like McDaniel’s that are somewhat off the chart.

The Washington Post noted on Thursday that while campaigns once carefully husbanded money for advertising for late media blitzes in the two or three months leading up to Election Day, “Strategists now say it pays to begin talking to voters earlier than ever.” Moreover, in many House and Senate races where one party dominates, the primary election results early in the year often determine the outcome of the November election.

Related: A New Tidal Wave of Money Could Decide Senate Races  

Since Dec. 30, eleven incumbent senators from both parties have spent a total of more than $6.2 million on television ads, according to public data filed with the stations that broadcast those spots, the Post reported. At the same time, non-incumbents running for Senate seats have spent $7.6 million in early advertising.

Incumbent senators facing formidable challenges this year – including Democrats Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky – all got early starts in airing commercials on their behalf.

Kantar Media, a global consulting firm, recently estimated that 2014 TV ad spending on Senate, House and gubernatorial races by campaign organizations and outside groups will approach $2.8 billion. “On the one hand, we expect to see more outside group advertisers than ever with control of the U.S. Senate again in the balance and the super PAC wave really hitting the big governors' cycle for the first time; 36 states will hold governors' races this year,”  Elizabeth Wilner of Kantar wrote in an analysis. “More outside groups mean more advertisers who aren't entitled to low rates or fair access to airtime.”

Related: GOP Mutiny Could Unseat Boehner and McConnell as Party Leaders   

About 75 percent of any competitive campaign’s overall spending goes to advertising. According to calculations by the University of San Francisco’s Ken Goldstein, about 57 percent of the advertising budget in a midterm year goes to local broadcast TV.

J.D. Winteregg, a high school teacher from Troy, Ohio and one of three people challenging House Speaker John Boehner for Ohio’s 8th Congressional District seat in the May 6 Republican primary, has launched “When The Moment Is Right,” a Viagra commercial spoof, on YouTube.com.

Winteregg, a Tea Party member, suggests in the ad that Boehner, 64, may be suffering from “electile dysfunction.”

“Sometimes when a politician has been in D.C. too long, it goes to his head and he just can’t seem to get the job done,” the ad says. “Other signs of electile dysfunction may include extreme skin discoloration, the inability to punch one’s self out of a wet paper bag or maintain a spine in the face of liberal opposition, (inaudible), smoking and golf. . . If you have a Boehner lasting more than 23 years, seek immediate medical attention.”

And While Obamacare is a favorite target of Republicans this election season, one GOP candidate seeking to succeed retiring Rep. Spencer Bauchus (R-AL) is literally taking aim at the president's health care law by shooting up a copy of the Affordable Care Act in a new campaign ad. Republican candidate Will Brook loads several guns and the copy of the ACA into his truck and drives into the woods.

After firing a few rounds, he remarks, “Well, we had some fun and knocked some holes in it, but we didn’t quite get the job done.  “Looks like we’ll have to resort to more extreme measures to get rid of Obamacare and replace it with a market-based solution.”

The Fiscal Times’ Brianna Ehley contributed to this report.

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Washington Editor and D.C. Bureau Chief Eric Pianin is a veteran journalist who has covered the federal government, congressional budget and tax issues, and national politics. He spent over 25 years at The Washington Post.