Why a Stacked GOP Primary Doesn't Mean More TV Dollars

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If you thought a crowded Republican presidential primary race will necessarily translate to lots more TV ad spending, think again.

With 17 or more presidential hopefuls expected on the GOP side, it would seem to follow that ad sellers in primary states could just answer the phone and cash checks throughout a robust and lengthy contest.

But as The Cook Political Report points out, the longer the primary battle continues, the longer campaign spending will rotate through primary states and ignore most of the country at any one time. It's only once the nominees are established that national campaigns open up and rain money on a wider group of battleground states all at once.

As Michael O'Brien, a VP at Scripps, explained in part:

"A presidential bout that engages in the spring is key 'because we need the three months of inventory in the general election swing states to drive the number' for the second quarter. 'If Republican candidates run out the primary until June, we have lost the opportunity to max out revenue' for the quarter, he says."

Brent McGoldrick, CEO of Republican analytics firm Deep Root Analytics, told Ad Age he agreed that the high number of primary candidates doesn't necessarily mean high TV buying, but he gave a simpler reason than Mr. O'Brien: Not every candidate will have the funds to go up on the air.

"It costs a lot of money to go up and stay up," said Mr. McGoldrick.

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