While the next three weeks will see the heaviest concentration of election ads on radio, an Inside Radio analysis of Media Monitors data shows 755,000 political ads have already run on AM/FM so far this year. Of the top 10 political advertisers on radio so far, half were placed by campaigns, three were for or against state propositions and two were from Political Action Committees according to the data, which includes advertising in 100 markets from Jan. 1 through Oct. 13.
The data shows radio does best with statewide races, like Senate and gubernatorial campaigns. Stacey Abrams for Governor is the top radio user among campaigns, as the Democratic candidate ran more than 14,000 ads so far in the Georgia gubernatorial contest. Close behind is Greg Abbott for Governor with 13,603 ads for the Republican seeking re-election in Texas. In Georgia, which has emerged as the most critical state in deciding which political party controls the Senate, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) has run more than 7,000 ads on radio seeking his first full term after being elected in a 2021 special election runoff.
Of all 435 seats up for grabs in the U.S. House of Representatives, no one has run more radio ads than Marcy Kaptur’s campaign to keep the Democrat in her seat in Ohio’s 9th congressional district. Kaptur’s campaign has run just under 7,500 ads. Real estate developer Rick Caruso is the biggest radio user in a mayoral contest with more than 7,000 spots aired by the Republican turned Democrat to lead Los Angeles as its 43rd mayor.
One reason for the large number of ads from the candidates themselves is they pay the lowest unit rate while Political Action Committees pay normal rates.
By far the largest political volume dealer at radio so far is “Yes 27-Californians Sol Homelessness Mtl Hlth Supp” with 30,844 spot occurrences. Proposition 27 is one of seven statewide propositions on the ballot for California on Nov. 8 and one of two that would legalize sports betting in the Golden State. Prop 27 would allow licensed tribes and gambling companies, including FanDuel and DraftKings, to offer online sports betting — including on cellphones and other mobile devices. “Yes 27” has aired 50% more spots than radio’s second largest political advertiser – Taxpayers Protection Alliance, a non-profit advocacy group based in Washington, DC, which ran nearly 20,000 radio spots as of Oct. 13 against Senate Bill 2992, dubbed the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which would prohibit large tech companies from giving their own products preferential treatment.
More Than News/Talk
To no one’s surprise, news/talk captured more political ads than any other format with more than 285,000 spot detections. But campaigns and PACS are increasingly spreading the love to more formats.
Four music formats combined received more political ads than news/talk on its own. They include country in second place with 112,000 ads, R&B in third with 81,000, adult contemporary (fourth with 69,000), and classic rock (fifth with 65,000). In fact 34 different formats carried political ads through mid-October, ranging from top 40 and urban contemporary to regional Mexican to Triple A.
Ads Concentrated In Swing States.
The hundreds of thousands of political ads that have run so far are not evenly spread geographically. More than half of them are confined to five key swing states, led by Texas with 121,000 radio spots and California with nearly 119,000. Georgia (74,000), Florida (70,000) and Ohio (63,000) are next. And more than 40,000 radio ads have already run apiece in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Alabama.
The typical MO for political campaigns is to run radio spots closer to Election Day so look for these numbers to spike rapidly in the coming weeks. PQ Media forecasts political advertising on radio will increase 29% this year when compared to 2018. PQ Media Executive VP/Director Leo Kivijarv said in a recent RAB blog post that radio, including podcasts, has the potential to rake in $644 million in political advertising this year.