The looming primary battle in South Carolina has candidates and their staffs on their toes. When it comes to political advertising, the state has an anything-goes reputation, and despite pledges from several candidates, this year is expected to be no exception.
Republicans head to the polls Saturday, 1/19/08, with Democrats following suit a week later, 1/26/08. According to Time magazine, negative mailers are flying into mailboxes throughout the state already on the Republican side.
Official campaign activity is only part of the picture. 527 organizations and other political groups are mounting campaigns of their own. These flights may not be coordinated with official campaign organizations, and often leave the candidate apologizing for ad that do not have the standard "I’m J. Doe, and I approved this message" disclaimer. According to Time, some activity in the state hasn’t even been tracked to its source yet, in particular those flooding the state with messages from phone banks and robocalls.
RBR/TVBR observation: We like to remember this every time some politician stands up and says the public airwaves should be put at their disposal for free political advertising. We’re sure that a sizable percentage of the electorate would agree that such ads are among the worst and least-informative elements of modern political campaigning, and the last thing we need is more of it. We note further that the calls for free airtime invariably come from federal office-holders, who greedily propose to allocate every last second to themselves — state and local politicians never seem to be considered for a piece of this boondoggle/windfall.