TVB Conference: Political Could Top $1 Billion This Year

This year looks strong, but 2010’s off the hook

While nothing short of a “political Armageddon” is on tap for next year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG President Evan Tracey, 2009 is turning out to be a hot year for political spending too. Between governor races in New Jersey and Virginia, candidates getting a headstart on advertising in next year’s elections, and a long list of hot-button issues, political ads are making a stronger than expected showing in 2009.

“We have issues,” Tracey said of healthcare reform, Cap and Trade, and other divisive matters. “We have big issues.”

Tracey presented his findings at the TVB Forecast Conference in Manhattan Sept. 10. Election spending this year may reach $350 million, he said, while policy issue expenditures may exceed $700 million in 2009. Helping the situation for television, he said, is the Obama Administration’s crackdown on excessive lobbying, which redirects issues money toward the media. Despite the rough economy, issues like same-sex marriage are so provocative that people are willing to cough up money for like-minded lawmakers.

“There are plenty of things to get people to get their checkbooks out and write checks,” he says, pointing out the $75 million spent on the healthcare issue thus far on television.

And next year, with its midterm elections, looks to blow 2009 away. Tracey said there are 37 governor’s races on the 2010 docket, and anywhere from 50 to 100 House elections. Sprinkle in a handful of open Senate seats formerly held by the likes of Hillary Clinton and the late Edward Kennedy, and it will be nothing short of Armageddon, says Tracey.