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?Northam Surges Ahead of Gillespie in Television Advertising

Bonnie Jo Mount / The Washington Post via AP, Pool

Now that the campaign for governor is reaching the most intense stretch heading into Election Day, television viewers are noticing a nonstop round of commercials. But one candidate is rising above the other.

Republican Ed Gillespie dominated the airwaves all summer long, running television commercials introducing him to voters. But since Labor Day, television viewers may have noticed a shift. According to an analysis of campaign advertising spending by the Virginia Public Access Project, Northam is now spending almost twice as much as Gillespie. Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says part of the logic here is to cut through all of the news created by the Trump White House.

“If you think back four years ago when Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli were running, they are both very visible people who were getting a lot of news coverage. The exact opposite pattern is the case this year.”


Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University says television viewing habits are changing, though. And younger voters are not as likely to be watching television.

“It may be that TV ads aren’t as effective as they used to be, but they can’t afford not to run them. And for every dollar they’re spending on a TV ad, they’re probably spending a quarter of a dollar on social media ads.”

Nevertheless, he adds, people of more advanced age are more likely to be watching television. And they’re more likely to vote. That means you’ll continue to see campaign ads during NFL games and Jeopardy.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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