While reporting my story on the political ad avalanche up and down Ohio (“Putting Bucks in the Buckeye State”), I was curious what it was like to actually be in the state, and have those ads running nonstop when you’re trying to unwind in front of the TV.
After all, here in true blue New York, we don’t get many of those spots.
So I called my little sister Kate, who relocated to Columbus at the end of the summer.
She’s had the hard luck of living in both Ohio and Florida, perhaps the two most sought after states by the presidential hopefuls. Years spent in the Sunshine State got her used to the white noise of the political spots.
In fact, there’s been very little noise associated with the ads.
Kate says: “I mute all the commercials. I don’t even listen.”
One factor in her muting, she says, is that the commercials themselves are loud. It’s not so much the content of the attack ads, thought that’s certainly loud, but the actual volume, she says, is noticeably higher than the volume in regular programming.
Kate says she sees around three political spots in each commercial pod–either Romney, or Obama, or their PACs, or spots related to the torrid senate race between Sherrod Brown and Josh Mandel.
All those hundreds of millions spent on political spots in Ohio, and viewers are simply muting the message.
One message she did pick up on from the media did not sit will with my little sis, who has a college degree and works part time in real estate. “Ohio ‘Walmart moms’ a battleground within a battleground,” went John King’s headline on CNN.com. “I resent that term,” says the mother of two young daughters. “It’s not very flattering. I’d rather be a Target mom–put it that way.”
Since my sister is new in town, I asked her which news channels she tunes into.
“Not much,” says Kate, who, if I have my numbers straight, turns 40 in a few weeks. “I couldn’t tell you which one is which. We just channel surf at night.”
Not having an emotional connection yet to the market, and its various towns and counties, is a factor in her relative apathy for local news. At this point in her stint in Columbus, she doesn’t care if Ohio State wins, loses or draws.
She does get some news from the weekend Columbus Dispatch; the previous residents in her home apparently forgot to cancel their subscription, she said.
Kate’s main source of news comes from radio–satellite radio.
“I get all my important news from Howard Stern,” says my sister, tongue partially in cheek.