More voters simply dodging TV election ads

As money floods into politics, a growing number of voters are tuning out the TV ads that money buys — literally.

That is according to several surveys, including one commissioned by SAY Media and conducted by Public Opinion Strategies.

The polling found, according to the magazine "Campaigns and Elections," one-third of likely voters nationwide say they have not watched TV in the past week and 45 percent say TV is no longer their primary method of watching video.

The survey also found 40 percent of likely voters own a direct video recorder, or DVR, and 90 percent of those say they regularly skip through those ads. The devices allow users to record programs, watch them on their own schedules and quickly jump over the TV ads.

"You're looking at the beginning of a trend in terms of how people are consuming TV and it's led by younger Americans," pollster Neil Newhouse told the magazine.

In one battleground state, Ohio, 38 percent of voters told pollsters they hadn't watched live TV in the past week.

The survey's margin of error was plus or minus 3.46 percent for the national data and 5.39 percent for the Ohio findings. 

The survey found that voters and viewers are increasingly intolerant of anything that interrupts their viewing and using experience, like TV ads.

What voters are probably even more intolerant of is the repetition, negativity and misleading nature of so many of the campaign-season TV ads.

As we are seeing with this election cycle, the Citizens United Supreme Court decision of 2010 is dumping millions of new dollars into campaigns at the state and national level.

Before the high court's decision of 2010, corporations and other large donors were sometimes reluctant to have their names associated with causes and candidates that might offend their customers.

In the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the free speech rights of wealthy donors and candidates were being impinged upon by campaign finance reporting rules.

The ruling now allows them to donate large sums anonymously to PACs defined under the Internal Revenue Service code as "social welfare" organizations.

Those organizations are then free to spend unlimited amounts of money, which is used almost exclusively to buy negative TV advertising.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent heavily in Maine to discredit front-running Senate candidate Angus King in hopes of helping Republican candidate Charlie Summers.

If the survey results are correct that one-third of people are dodging TV ads and that they represent the leading edge of a trend, then big-money donors will have an increasingly difficult time forcing their messages upon prospective voters.

More and more media users will demand control going forward. They will decide when it is time to seek political information and will select the source of that information.

They will demand to be informed, rather than battered with messages they know are likely unfair and untrue.

That, we can all hope, will help diminish the impact of big money on elections and lead to a better-informed electorate.

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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FRANK EARLEY's picture

With all the money...

With all the money being spent on these ad's, one thing gets me. Why can't one of these groups producing these ad's, come up with something remotely entertaining. Could anyone imagine one of these ad's appearing during the Super Bowl? Its no big secret why no one watches, these politicians have no imagination. Maybe if they could find a way of relaying their message without trashing the other guy, and make it entertaining, maybe I'd watch. It still wouldn't change my mind on anything, but I'd watch. Until that happens, I'll just use that time to see what else is on.........

Steve  Dosh's picture

More voters simply dodging TV election ads

ed. Friday night
Right ?  It's ludicrous . We've got these super duper PACs sponsoring their opinions of candidates that may or may not reflect either candidate's views Why bother watching ?
Social welfare ?
That's a mis-nomer if there ever was one ( kinda' like Army Intelligence :)
Fact checking is big this time around , isn't it . ....
" In the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the free speech rights of wealthy donors and candidates were being impinged upon by campaign finance reporting rules." True • 
Q: You know who has a lot of US dollars to spend right now ?
A: Red China
b t w - The TiVo ® is a great invention . /s, Steve

 's picture

The first ad...

...against King was proven to be totally false. I haven't stopped watching television, but after that, I don't believe anything any of those ads say for either side. I really don't need TV ads to tell me how to vote. I make up my own mind.


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