Thursday, February 16, 2012

Something extra on campaign spending

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 at 4:30 PM

When it comes to the 2012 Senate race between incumbent Sen. Jon Tester and his challenger, Congressman Denny Rehberg, there's been a lot of talk about where the campaign money is coming from. This week the Indy takes a look at where much of that money is going. Broadcast advertising remains a powerful medium in political campaigns, and with millions of dollars pouring into this race, a big year for television and radio is in the offing.

We caught up with both campaigns for a little extra intel on how large a role broadcast outlets will play in the coming months. It's clear both candidates intend to dominate the airwaves. Rehberg's campaign manager, Erik Iverson, says it's a good rule of thumb for a candidate to spend 80 to 85 percent of his or her campaign funds on voter outreach. "And the primary part of that is going to be television. That’s still the big mover in terms of reaching a large audience and being able to deliver a message that can shape voters’ perceptions and inform voters.”

Aaron Murphy, communications director for Tester's campaign, echoes that rule of thumb. Broadcast advertising will be a significant component in this race, Murphy says, and the Tester campaign will be spending "what we need to spend how and when we need to spend it." This promises to be an historic race for Montana. Tester has already been the target of third party attack ads, increasing his need to counter those messages early on. "Television is an effective way to set Jon's record straight," Murphy says. "To make sure voters know who he is and what he stands for."

Tester's campaign coffers are brimming at $6.2 million. Rehberg has raised roughly $2.6 million. And neither candidate plans to have much cash left after election day. "The last thing you want to do," Iverson says, "is wake up the day after the election realizing you've lost by a few thousand votes and you have a million dollars in the bank."

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