Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has made a slew of major ad purchases in the Washington market — a spurt of activity for a campaign that trails badly in the advertising wars, and one that will reach not only voters in the swing state of Virginia but also potentially help shape the national political and media impressions of the race.
The Romney campaign made 42 buys totaling about $2.4 million Thursday, the second-most of any day since the beginning of August. It purchased 20 additional ads Friday, and eight more on Sunday, according to The Washington Times’ exclusive broadcast advertising tracker.
More of the Romney ads have been slated to run in Washington than in any other market, with Cincinnati coming in second.
“The D.C. market covers a large part of Northern Virginia,” said Tim Kay, an ad seller for cable advertising firm NCC Media, but he noted the expensive purchases cast the net far wider than Mr. Romney needs. Neither Maryland nor the District is considered a competitive race.
“I think over 40 percent is outside Virginia, so 40 cents of every dollar he spends are not in the important places,” he said.
However, blanketing the nation’s capital does have a separate potential benefit: The national political media as well as Republican Party and Democratic Party leaders and operatives are based here, and what they see here can help form their impressions of what others throughout the country are seeing.
“I’ve heard that in the past candidates have wanted to have a presence in D.C. because of the presence of politicians and national media,” Mr. Kay said.
In Mr. Romney’s case, the plethora of ads for the Republican candidate could mask the fact that in most areas, such ads are not as common.
Mr. Obama has dramatically out-advertised Mr. Romney in every swing state, broadcasting records show. Nationally, Mr. Obama has made 1,300 ad purchases since Aug. 1 compared with Mr. Romney’s 485, a number that reflects both the scale and geographic reach of the efforts.
Those records do not include cable ad buys, which politicians have increasingly used to micro-target voters. But the Romney campaign appears more inclined to blanket broad swaths of the population with messages on the major broadcast networks.
Such ad buys have also let the Obama campaign conserve resources by advertising to Virginia through state-specific cable providers rather than the Washington region’s airwaves.
• To see a breakdown of television advertising by candidate and TV show, go here: http://www.washingtontimes.com/adwars/shows.