election may be hitting home a little sooner than in the rest of the country. A
flood of television advertisements has dominated the airwaves in Colorado, Florida, Iowa,
Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, since the beginning of
$222.6 million has already been spent on
television ads by all of the presidential candidates combined this election
cycle—most of which has been focused in the nine swing states.
Attack ads from PAC’s, unflattering
still-shots of candidates, and words taken out of context make up most of the
what’s new? This is just another year for us all to swear off
television. Then four years from now we’ll do it all over, and the sea
of political ads will once again drown our television sets. But do our
elections have to be this way—perhaps more importantly should they be?
Advertising’s Role in Politics
job,” said Roger Lipker, professor of advertising at Colorado State University
and former director of communications at McDonald’s Corporation.
“The most effective creative wins, no matter what the product or politician.
Those sick of political advertising should not blame the advertising industry;
rather, they should blame the two sources — money and today’s Supreme Court.
So long as the justices continue to allow huge sums of money from PACs and others
with an agenda to flow as it does today, we’ll continue to see advertising as we see
it,” Lipker said in an email interview.
We already know the Supreme
Court’s stance on this issue with the Citizens United decision and the State of Montana case two weeks ago. Which means,
according to Lipker, we are left with only one alternative—our political future is
in the hands of businesses and those with money.
Management Holds the Key
corporations rights because it protects the shareholders. It’s a good thing
overall because corporations tend to have more money to give,” said Burt Deines,
business and management professor also at Colorado State University.
Was it the
Supreme Court’s intention to put the power of political contributions into the hands
of those with the most to give? It appears that way, and if this is our political
reality then CEO’s and managers face the burden of whether or not to continue
contributing to the current state of our election process.
means however that upper management also must decide whether or not to continue furthering
their industries by spending company funds to elect politicians that favor them.
“It exposes managers and CEO’s to risks, but that’s their job—to
manage risk. It’s important to lobby for the laws that help protect their
industry because that’s a risk management tool. Can it go overboard?
Sure,” said Deines.
The Way It Should Be
November, the end goal of these television blitz campaigns is votes. While
historically television ads have had very little effect on the
outcome of elections, this election cycle is proving to be different.
According to a USA Today/ Gallup poll in the New
York Daily News, President Obama’s attack ads are giving him the edge in the key
swing states. Eight percent of voters said political ads have changed their minds
about either Obama or Romney. More than three-quarters of those who changed
their mind said they now support the president. Only 16 percent said ads convinced them to
The payoff in votes is essential but it may also be returned in
the form of individual donations. According to the Federal Election
Commission, some of the largest individual contributions have come from the states where
advertising has been heaviest.
The map below allows you to see both Mitt Romney
and Barack Obama’s swing state totals raised as of May 31, 2012. President Obama is
leading fundraising across all swing states by just over $2 million.
answer for now remains unknown, and alternatives may never be seen. We do however
know that businesses and those who currently contribute the most to the political process
might be the only ones to whom citizens can turn if they wish to change the way things