Ohio Voters Tune Out TV Ads — `Sick of It,’ Campaign Aide Says

Photograph by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Rep. Nan Hayworth, left, and Rep. James Renacci before a House Financial Services Committee committee hearing.

The Cleveland media market is so saturated with political TV commercials — and voters are so sick of them — that it’s a waste of money to run a barrage of spots as the Nov. 6 election nears.

So says Republican Rep. James Renacci, who in a redrawn district is squaring off against another House member, Democrat Betty Sutton. Renacci decided in August not to use TV time he had previously reserved for the campaign’s final two weeks. Instead, he ran more ads during the summer month and, rather than again rely on a media presence, now is spending money on direct voter contacts, says spokesman James Slepian.

“If you just throw all your money at broadcast TV and hope it lands in the right place and you wait until the end to do it, good luck,” Slepian said. “Voters, a lot of them, have tuned this stuff out already. They’re fast-forwarding the ads, they’re not watching them, they’re muting them, they’re so sick of it.”

Cleveland is Ohio’s top market for ads paid for directly by President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, with about 12,000 aired between Sept. 24 and Oct. 24, according to data compiled by New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG. That doesn’t count all the political spots financed by outside groups, or those in the hot Senate race between incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Josh Mandel.

Sutton’s campaign is calling Renacci’s move as a “colossal strategic blunder.”

“The fact is, the more that voters see Jim Renacci, the less they like him,” Sutton spokesman Steve Fought said. “That’s the only reason for pulling his TV commercials.”

Slepian said Renacci will have a media presence in the campaign’s final days, on cable stations and with targeted broadcast TV placements.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates as a tossup the faceoff between Renacci, a freshman, and Sutton, who has served three terms.

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