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Friday, October 23, 2015

Dumb with numbers

I read this paragraph and laughed and laughed and laughed.
In fact, last cycle $245 million was spent on TV ads shown to viewers in the wrong districts, according to an analysis by Targeted Victory. Put another way, $0.75 of every dollar spent on broadcast TV was wasted.
No, this is not how it works. It is just not true. Targeted Victory is plain wrong.
Ian Patrick Hines of Campaigns and Elections fell for this. The idea Targeted Victory is pushing is that buying TV ads in congressional races is a waste of money because people not in the district also see the ad.

Most of his article makes sense. Just hitting the airwaves won't get you elected. You need to organize, raise funds and later, get out the vote. And yes, ads on the Internet can follow voters in your district around the World Wide Web.

But the idea that you are "wasting" money because people outside the district see the ad is nonsense. Rare is the TV station that is in an isolated congressional district. Only in Alaska, Wyoming and Montana will you find such a situation. In the 432 other congressional districts, over-the-air TV means sharing the message with people who don't live in your district.

To be sure, this drives the price of those ads up.

But the purpose of a political campaign is not to be wise in spending, but rather to get at least one more vote than the rest of the candidates.

His column is here (and it is pretty good except for that one paragraph).