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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The $20 Million Cover Charge

Karl Rove explains why the rock-bottom cover charge for the 2016 campaign is $20 million.
One way to get a rough sense of the likely buy-in to the GOP race is to examine the cost of running four weeks of television in each of the sanctioned contests in February 2016—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. These first four states collectively have 133 delegates, or only 5.4% of the 2,471 delegates likely to be at the convention.

A week of television—enough for an average viewer to see an ad about 10 times—in the four states would cost roughly $4 million, according to GOP TV buyers. It’s reasonable to expect most campaigns would look for at least four weeks of TV, making the cost to run ads in the February states right around $16 million.

Of course, TV is not the only way campaigns would convey messages. In addition, the prices TV stations are quoting are for third-party groups like Super PACs. The law guarantees candidates the lowest rate, which stations are loath to estimate now.

But even if candidates paid less for TV, the additional costs for Internet activity, mail, phones and radio would mean candidates could still spend close to $20 million to mount strong campaigns in all the February contests.