Local TV impact
No, negative ads won't suddenly disappear. Instead, it could change the economics of media buying, giving broadcast-TV networks their first shot in years of getting a significant amount of primary ads, bolstering cable and potentially national radio. But local TV stations could see political advertisers cut back local buys.
It also could lead to somewhat broader appeals as politicians look to connect with a wider swath of the country.
The changes became apparent last week as California moved its presidential primary up to Feb. 4 with New York, Illinois and New Jersey planning to do the same, effectively creating a national primary as more than a dozen states hold primaries on that date.
How much the changes will hurt TV stations is less certain. The consultants are still expecting significantly more spending on the 2008 presidential race than the one in 2004. Even if local TV gets a smaller share of the total, it may yet get more dollars.
The consultants said the candidates aren't likely to generate any more funds from the switch but will have to change their spending priorities. The large number of states and the high costs of some markets raise questions about the traditional strategy of buying market by market. While that strategy still works in small states, network buys become far more efficient when trying to reach bigger markets.
Early states' importance
Evan Tracey, chief operating officer of TNSMI/Campaign Media Analysis Group, said it's still not clear whether the switch of the states will boost or diminish the importance of the four early states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and, for Democrats, Nevada. After those four, however, the super-duper primary makes clear that media -- more than campaign organizing -- will become the way to win voters.
"It's going to be media-driven. There isn't enough money to do precinct-by-precinct organizing," Mr. Tracey said.