Utahns are weary of ineffective and slanderous political ads dominating this election season, and Utah isn’t even a swing state.
A big part of the annoyance towards political ads is their inescapable presence. Cable is not the only outlet anymore. Social networks, banner ads, search engines and radio are all mudslinging mediums now, and politicians’ spending reflects this shift.
A March 2012 article published by adage.com stated that, “Online spending is also expected to get a huge bump and is projected to reach $159.2 million, a sixfold increase from 2008.”
State of residence greatly determines the level of bombardment from these ads, and living in Utah shields people from the level of influence that other states are getting.
The Washington Post published a graphic article, updated Oct. 17, displaying the amount of money each candidate had spent on television ads and what state that money was spent in.
Overall, President Barack Obama’s campaign has spent $300 million, 81 percent of which was spent on negative ads, and Governor Romney’s campaign has spent $366 million, with 88 percent of that spent on negative ads.
In a monetary state-by-state breakdown published by the Washington Post, the places hit the hardest were Florida ($136 million), Virginia ($113 million), Ohio ($109 million), North Carolina ($85 million) and Pennsylvania ($75 million).
The amount of money spent in the state does not accurately portray the amount of ads that were aired. Certain states are more expensive to advertise in than others, which explains why Las Vegas, Nev., at 47,219 ads, didn’t even make the top five and why $53 million was spent on only 28,402 ads in Washington, D.C., while $39 million got the candidates over 55,000 ads in North Carolina.
Utah is the only state that did not have even a portion represented on the map, meaning that there were so few ads aired it was pointless to list. California came in as a close second, with only a tiny section of the city of El Centro listed.
Richard Davis, a professor of political science at BYU, completed his dissertation on news media coverage of American national political institutions and commented on the special situation Utah finds itself in during presidential elections.
“We have few competitive races in Utah, unfortunately,” Davis said. “That means voters have relatively few options and candidates do not spend money trying to reach out to voters. The losers are the voters. They are unable to choose between two viable candidates and actually have candidates seek to understand their views on issues and communicate their positions on those issues. Additionally, the heavily one-party state means the presidential race outcome is a foregone conclusion here. That means the two major party candidates ignore Utah voters.”
Colleen McDermott, a senior studying anthropology, has a different take on the issue.
“I feel like they ignore the undecided voters, they aren’t doing as much to get their vote, but as an Obama supporter I don’t feel ignored, I feel like my vote is appreciated and they want me to go out and gather more support.”
Karen Kleinman is a senior studying Communication Studies and believes that a lot of the ad fatigue experienced in Utah is due to social media.
“After any comment made or debate held there is no escaping it, day after day,” Kleinman said. “Everyone wants to share their interpretation, anger or excitement about what was said. It’s free campaigning for the candidates, I guess, but as someone who has made up their mind, I get tired of seeing it all the time. No one is going to convince me of anything through a Facebook post.”