The jury is out on Congress right now. It’s known that President George W. Bush’s approval ratings are hurting, and those of Congress in general are hurting even more. But is it general antipathy toward incumbents, or is it one party or the other generating the ill will toward the legislative branch? The Democrats, in control for a scant seven months, do not have enough votes to overcome the 49 Republicans in the Senate, who need only 40 to bring whatever legislation they wish to a screeching halt. But does the general population understand that? Further questions abound. Are the new Democrats who took over Republican seats last year the first wave of continued encroachment into Republican territory, as Democrats would like to believe, or are they an endangered species which the Republicans can turn into one-term wonders? According to an article in the Washington Post, the Washington-based committees of both parties want to win this perception battle now before the battle for Congress is completely buries under an avalanche of presidential coverage, and both are prepared to open up their warchests early to brand their candidates. Democratic House campaign chair Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) told WaPo, "The window will go into the fall, but by early next year, it will be closed." Look for both radio and television buys, as well as other tactics, in selected areas over the next few months.
RBR observation: The battle for the House figures to be very hot again in 2008, just as it was in 2006, and in many districts, radio is one of the absolute best ways to get a targeted message before the public. If you are in a battleground district, and even more particularly, if you are in a district that changed hands last year, it is in your interest to let campaign officials from both parties how easy it is to procure time on your station.