CLEVELAND - “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.” For so many years the words of Ira Gershwin summed up perfectly the tone of most presidential campaigns in Ohio.
Regroup after the primary, raise money, plan for the conventions and plot the post-Labor Day push.
Not this year, not in this state. The calendar may read June, but the airwaves have a distinctly fall feel. A check of the commercials running on NewsChannel5 at 6 Wednesday night shows about a quarter of them are tied to the presidential race.
"We have not seen this level of advertising in a presidential campaign this early," said NewsChannel5 political analyst Tom Sutton, who points to the amount of money available to the candidates.
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision this week upholding limitless political donations by corporations and special interest groups means the airwaves will only be getting more crowded.
"The fact that super PACs can collect unlimited amounts from any individual, not report who’s giving, not report how it’s being spent and you can name names of candidates when you're doing your advertising blows the lid off campaign spending," said Sutton.
"We spent $5 billion four years ago on all races, presidential and congressional. $4 billion in 2004 and $3 billion in 2000. Projections this year? No ones even making predictions," he said.
The fact that campaigns are spending it in June though is a testament to the importance of this state and really just how close this race is.
“It’s in some ways like a war you don’t know quite what the effects of your weapons are, but you know that if you don’t shoot them the other guy is, and at some point you’re going to start to suffer the effects.”
In addition, Ohio is not just a must-win state, but it truly is bellwether, a microcosm of the nation. If a candidate can move the needle with a particular ad, they know they’re on to something.
"Part of our being a bellwether is that we represent different regions within one state, we represent the middle South, in some ways the Northeast, the Midwest and demographics within the state that you find in other areas like in the urban metropolitan areas.
“So depending on how people respond to the advertising here with the internal polling that they're doing that can give them tests on what to do with the rest of the country," Sutton said.
Unlike 2008, the candidates for the White House will be vying for airtime come fall with a U.S. Senate race that promises to be one of the nation’s most costly and in northeast Ohio a congressional showdown between Rep. Jim Renacci and Rep. Betty Sutton for the newly redrawn 16th congressional seat.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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