Pacing off now, wait till after Tuesday


Super Duper Tuesday may not be a windfall, the Mitt Romney (R-MA) campaign has indicated that it will not be going in for a major national media buy, or even numerous local spot shots in the run-up to Super Duper Tuesday, when the presidential nominations for both parties may hang in the balance. Add to that the fact that the John McCain (R-AZ) campaign began the year in the red and that Mike Huckabee (R-AR) has always been cash-strapped, and it would appear that the Republicans will not be funding a political cash windfall over the weekend. However, it may be a different story on the Democratic side.

The fourth Republican still up and running, Ron Paul (R-TX), has seen contributions flow in consistently, but his other consistency is that he remains a prisoner of sub-double-digit poll numbers. It will be interesting to see if Paul uses some of his cash to try for a splash in selected states where his message is resonating above and beyond his national numbers.

On the Democratic side, the incoming cash spigots seem to be operating in overdrive. Such is the case for Barack Obama (D-IL) at any rate, who is reporting a surge of 30M+ into his warchest in January of 2008 alone. (Q4 2007 contribution totals for all campaigns should be available from the FEC soon.) If Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is enjoying anywhere near the same amount of fund-raising success, the two remaining Democrats could possibly make up for any spending shortfall on the Republican side.

RBR/TVBR observation: The obvious place to spend some cash would be the Super Bowl, but that event has been sold out and is priced well beyond the means of most campaigns anyway. The real winners could be the states holding primary events directly after Super Duper Tuesday, if the results on that day prove inconclusive. A small, manageable number of contests, with the stakes accelerating higher and higher, could be a cash magnet for broadcasters.

As for Tuesday, we think the coast-to-coast aspect of Super Duper Tuesday, along with the short amount of time, makes a complex series of local buys somewhat of a non-starter. However, local action should heat up soon enough, as presidential nominees are decided and battleground states identified, and as another pitched battle for Congress shapes up.

In the meantime we refresh everyone’s memory on the first quarter national pacing report for radio posted last Monday, as we outlined market by market and most all of them were heading for the oxygen tank. Now some members of Wall Street disagreed with our analysis – that it was not as bleak of picture as the numbers stated and with a second breath they reminded broadcasters of political advertising. Well, there may be a little cash, or as & state -local action may heat up, but not enough to make the downturn look any better. One key factor on the attention side is the continuing speculation on Clear Channel completing its 26.7 billion buyout by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital. You ask what this has to do with pacing of revenues? Easy, when the CEO of the largest radio group in the country sends an internal email memo to cut, slice, no hiring, then they are not paying attention in the key areas of raising the revenue bar. It is called industry leadership.

Recap: First quarter national pacing report

Recap: Hogan internal email memo