Most money raised in politics is spent on advertising, and believe it or not, even in this digital age, most of those advertising dollars still go to the long-time king of political advertising: television. Even though the last two years have seen lots of bungled predictions, in the realm of TV ad spending, we are undeterred, and predict that TV will win out in 2018 as well. Forecasting the amount and distribution of political ad dollars is not just another sign that the election season is starting, but also very big business: The large media companies that own most local television stations and the Wall Street investors who hold their stock have come to rely on the bi-annual infusion of political cash that floods stations fortunate enough to be in the “right” markets.
In 2014, the most recent midterm election, the total TV ad spend was $2.8 billion. It’s tempting to add a few percent to that to account for inflation and call it a day. But that’s far too blunt an instrument; the number and location of competitive contests influences the amount of money campaigns spend in any given year. And there also have been changes in the last couple cycles in the ways campaigns allocate their television advertising dollars.
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