Obama's Broadcast Coup

The final numbers are in and a whopping 33.6 million viewers tuned in to watch Barack Obama's prime time broadcast on Wednesday night. For reference, that's more than watched the final game of the World Series later in the evening and more than viewed the finale of "American Idol" last season. That prompts the folks at First Read to ask and answer: "Was the Obama infomercial worth the millions the campaign spent on it? It looks like it."

Rasmussen Reports, which seemed to have mixed up the lede in its coverage of the event, polled voters responses to the broadcast and also found that it was a genuine success. Check out what Rasmussen buries starting on the 15th -- 15th -- paragraph of the write up of its survey.

Fifty-four percent (54%) say the ad makes them more likely to vote for Obama, even though 62% say it didn't tell them anything that they didn't already know about the Democratic presidential candidate.

Twenty-four percent (24%) say the ad makes them less likely to vote for Obama, while 20% say it will have no impact.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of female voters say the ad makes them more likely to vote for Obama versus 50% of men.

Twenty-one percent ( 21%) of GOP voters and 36% of unaffiliateds say the ad increases the likelihood that they will vote for Obama. Thirty-three percent (33%) of unaffiliated voters say they are now less likely to do so, but only four percent (4%) of Democrats agree.

Twenty-nine percent (29%) of voters also say the ad told them something about Obama that they didn't already know, but nine percent (9%) are not sure. Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters ages 18 to 29 and 50% of those who will be voting for the first time in this election say the ad told them something new about the candidate.

Those who watched the ad became significantly more likely to vote for Obama, and a decent chunk of viewers learned something new about Obama that they had not previously known. What more could you ask for from a telecast that reached 33.6 million viewers?

There's more...

More than 1-in-5 TV Households Watched Obama Last Night

Nielsen has the details:

The combined overall household rating for Senator Barack Obama's Wednesday night infomercial, in the top 56 local television markets where Nielsen maintains electronic TV meters, was 21.7.

Obama's simulcast is the first to be aired by a presidential candidate since Ross Perot ran a political telecast on Election Day in 1996.  That program was watched by 16.8% of all households nationwide.

Ross Perot also ran a series of 15 political telecasts during the 1992 presidential election.

In comparison, the final debate between the two presidential candidates received a 38.3 household rating in the top 56 local TV markets.  The candidates' first debate on September 26 received a 34.7 household rating in the top 55 markets; their second debate, on October 7, received a 42.0 household rating in those markets.

Nearly a third of television households in the Philadelphia market tuned into the Obama event immediately preceding the World Series, making the market Obama's second best for the evening. Other swing areas in the top-10 included West Palm Beach (second), Greensboro, NC (fifth), St. Louis (sixth), Washington, DC (seventh), and Boston (ninth), with the latter two bleeding into swing states.

The pundits on the cable nets may try to discount the power of the broadcast. However,
 Obama was not trying to convince the Beltway cognoscenti with his event -- he was trying to reach voters who might otherwise not have been reached. So the fact that what appears to have been tens of millions of people tuned in last night to a program with Oscar-like production values laying out a cogent case for why Barack Obama should be elected the next President of the United States cannot be a bad thing for the Obama campaign.

There's more...

Where the Campaigns are Spending

In my last post I noted the overall disparity between the advertising efforts on behalf of Barack Obama and John McCain. Over at The Fix, Chris Cillizza goes a step further and breaks down spending by state, which I have reproduced below. Note that although independent expenditures by the Republican National Committee don't bring the same bang for the buck as candidate ads they are included in the total for McCain. Note, too, that the chart is arranged slightly differently than Cillizza's original, with the states arranged by the percentage difference in ad spending between Obama and McCain (plus the RNC) the week of October 7-13.

StateObamaMcCain% Diff
New Hampshire$1,100,000$289,000O+281
New Mexico$700,000$370,000O+89
North Carolina$2,100,000$1,800,000O+17

The first thing that jumps out from these numbers is that McCain and the RNC, combined, are outspending the Obama campaign in a single state -- and even there it appears from Cillizza's chart that the Obama campaign is outspending the McCain campaign. In nearly half of the states, Obama is at least doubling the ad budget of the Republicans.

But beyond that, look at the map. There are about twice as many states in play right now as there were at the same time four years ago -- and this list doesn't even include Nebraska's second congressional district, which it appears the Obama campaign is targeting, or West Virginia, which Obama is already hitting with his Virginia and Pennsylvania ads. Close to three-quarters of Obama's ad expenditures in this range are in states that George W. Bush carried just four years ago. This is exactly why folks in the netroots had been clamoring for a candidate to opt out of the public financing program in the general election -- so that Democrats aren't forced into the box of chasing after the single path to 270 but rather are on the offensive and put the GOP on its heels.

ALERT!!! Obama DOWN in Minnesota!!!

http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollRepo rt.aspx?g=0782fede-2757-4c86-9479-f84f02 afc9fb

John McCain 47%
Barack Obama 46%

Obama wins Youth and Seniors, McCain everyone else.  How in the world is it possible for Minnesota to be going red when NC is going blue?

There's more...

More on the Map: Where the Campaigns Are Spending

Via Marc Ambinder comes ad spending numbers over the last week from TNS Media Intelligence Campaign Media Analysis Group (TNSMI/CMAG) and the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project. Overall, both campaigns (Obama+DNC and McCain+RNC -- though the RNC is putting up a much larger share of the GOP numbers than the DNC is of the Democratic numbers) spent about $7.8 million spread over the following states. I have broken the data into two charts, one arranging the states by the nominal difference in spending by the two sides, the other arranging them by the percentage difference.

Nominal Difference in Spending (in thousands of dollars)

North Carolina300245O+55
North Dakota221O+21
New Hampshire172225M+53
New Mexico155214M+69

Relative Difference in Spending

North Dakota221O+2,100%
North Carolina300245O+22%
New Hampshire172225M+31%
New Mexico155214M+38%

* - The Obama campaign's spending in Minnesota appears directed at Iowa

What we can see is that the Obama campaign is still intent on maintaining a slightly broader field of play than the McCain campaign, effectively dominating the media markets in the traditionally red states of Indiana, Montana and North Dakota, though the McCain campaign has largely free reign over Minnesota.

Other than that, the Obama campaign is putting its greatest efforts, relative to the McCain campaign, towards flipping the red states of Virginia, Missouri and Florida, while the McCain campaign is placing its focus on keeping Iowa and New Mexico red and picking up Pennsylvania. At least in terms of advertising dollars from the two campaigns, Ohio and Colorado are the two swing states (and indeed Denver saw more ads than any other city in the country last week).

Note, too, though that the McCain campaign is investing big dollars in Florida (read: they are at least somewhat concerned at the possibility of losing the state) and the Obama campaign is investing big dollars in Pennsylvania (read: they are at least somewhat concerned at the possibility of losing the state). For both campaigns, these weakly affiliated states received the second largest amount of advertising dollars over the last week.


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