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Steyer Ads: Effective or Just Annoying?

Posted: October 24, 2019 | By: Mallory McQueen Tagged: Blog

When I went home earlier this month, whenever I sat down and turned on the tv, I couldn’t help but notice all of the campaign ads that were being played. I think in the total time that I was home, I probably saw about fifteen ads for Tom Steyer. And I thought to myself, if I see the same Tom Steyer ad again, I’m going to lose my mind. It wasn’t only Steyer that I saw ads for; I saw a few for Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg and a handful of others. But Tom Steyer really took the cake for most ads aired on my Hulu live that weekend. In fact, Steyer leads the rest of the candidates in campaign advertisement airings by a large margin. As of September 26, Tom Steyer had spent $12 million of the estimated $15.4 million spent on television ads in the 2020 presidential race. By the end of September, he had aired 15,000 campaign ads in Iowa alone.

While I was sitting there, most likely tuning out the same Steyer ad again and wondering if there was any way for me to avoid the next inevitable one, later on, I thought about the efficiency of the campaign ads. These ads were driving me nuts, and I chose to study politics for four years of my life. But what about the average American voter? Were they being driven insane by these incessant ads too? Do these ads even achieve their purpose: to get the candidate’s name out there and build support?

A study conducted by FiveThirtyEight argues that they do and that Steyer specifically has prospered from his aggressive television campaign. Steyer’s campaign has largely been focused on the early states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Steyer has spent $417k on advertising in the first four states according to a New York Times article published mid-October. His focus on the early states has paid off as Steyer is polling higher in the early states than nationally. An article published by the New York Times in early October points out that Steyer has not polled higher than one percent in any national survey, but has been polling between two and four percent in the early states. It seems that Steyer owes his making the debate stage in the fourth democratic debate to his aggressive television campaign strategy.

Personally, let me tell you, after seeing his ad on repeat for four days I am no more of a Steyer fan that I already wasn’t beforehand. I voiced my annoyance about the Steyer ads to my older brother to which he replied, “Who’s Tom Steyer?” I had to laugh. “Exactly,” I said. So maybe he, like I, had just been blocking out these ads over time as they have become more and more common with the caucuses approaching.