February 1, 2016
Just in time for the Iowa caucuses today, the National Journal dove into Political TV Ad Archive data on TV ads airing in Iowa and found that viewers were “bombarded by campaign and super PAC ads…totaling more than 350 hours in just the last two months.”
Reporters Zach C. Cohen and Libby Isenstein found that Rubio “captured the most airtime recently of any of his competitors, nearly doubling the TV campaign waged by fellow Sen. Ted Cruz, whose campaign and affiliated super PACs created the greatest number of unique ads for the state.”
Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders “have relative parity in TV time in the weeks leading up to their first official contest.”
The National Journal found that the most aired ad was this one from Sanders, which features the candidate describing how he would crack down on Wall Street. As of this morning, that ad has aired more than 1,850 times in key primary states, and not just in Iowa: over the last few days it has gotten heavy airplay in Las Vegas and Reno, where the Nevada Democratic caucus will take place on February 20.
The most aired GOP ad, reports the Journal, is Trump’s first-released ad, focusing on immigration. This ad, which has aired more than 1,750 times in key primary states, with heavy air play in Iowa and New Hampshire. The fact-checking group PolitiFact found that footage used in the ad showing people swarming over a border fence used illustrate the narrator’s statement that Trump would stop illegal immigration from Mexico actually depicted African migrants in Morocco.
The National Journal also surfaced the most aired negative ad: this one from Right to Rise USA, a super PAC supporting Jeb Bush, which “portrays fellow Floridian Rubio as a flip-flopper and friend of New York Sen. Chuck Schumer.”
The National Journal conducted this analysis with data downloaded from the Political TV Ad Archive here. These data are constantly updated throughout the day and provide a constantly changing portrait of how political campaigns and outside groups are targeting TV ads to voters.