Cleveland No. 1 market in the country for political spending in 2012

Cleveland TVs political stimulus package

CLEVELAND - Starting in late 2008 many industries across the U.S. were thrown government-backed lifelines in the form of stimulus packages; there was TARP for the banks and the auto bailout and cash for clunkers for the car making industry.

For television though, as advertising dollars dried up, there was nothing. That is until this year. The 2012 election is providing in many battleground states the type of revenue stimulus that hasn't been seen in some years and is breathing new life into the television industry.

No where is that more evident than here in Cleveland. While it may be the nation's 18th largest media market, it is this year first when it comes to the amount of money being spent by candidates in this years elections.

Wells Fargo Securities earlier this month had Cleveland behind the Los Angeles television market in terms of political advertising dollars spent through late June, those numbers were $20.2 million spent in L.A. with $17.7 million spent in Cleveland.

The L.A. dollars dried up in July, while the Cleveland spending did not, increasing another $2.7 million from June 24 through July 8 pushing the northern Ohio media market into a tie for first with L.A. with $20.5 million each, according to the Wells Fargo data.

Beyond that, the Washington Post's analysis of campaign spending shows in the two weeks since July 8 an additional $2.3 million has been spent in Cleveland, none in Los Angeles giving Cleveland the clear front runner status for dollars spent on television.

"I think Ohio is one of a handful, maybe even two or three states," said President Barack Obama in a July 16, interview with Newschannel5, "where if we win here, we're likely to win."

As a result, both camps are fighting hard for the state and the Cleveland television market provides them with the opportunity to reach a third of the voters who will cast ballots this November.

Through July 8, the Wells Fargo report finds $648 million had been spent on television nationwide with that number expected to balloon to $2.65 billion by campaign's end.

Obama says Ohio as a whole is a bellwether and it provides them with a chance to gauge what America as a whole is feeling.

"I think what's important is Ohio's values and what's at stake for Ohio is representative of what's happening across the country," he said.

With just over three months to go in the race don't expect the volume of ads to lessen. "In some ways it's a little bit like World War I trench warfare," said WEWS political analys Tom Sutton.

"They have to keep lobbing the shells at the other side and they keep lobbing them at you. There are minor casualties when there's a slip of the tongue or one of the ads maybe gets a little bit of a harsh play but other wise you don't want to let up your attacks because then the other side starts to dominate and they then start to define," he said.

And define your opponent before you can define themselves is now and always has been key. The impact of that battle being played out so early though is unique to this years campaign so the impact on voters, mainly undecideds come November is unknown.

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