CHESTER, Va. — “It’s just too much,” says voter Carmen Medina.”It’s becoming a little too overwhelming.”
Medina and her fellow Virginians are caught in the crossfire of an expensive ad war — one that both presidential campaigns hope will swing the state in their favor. President Obama’s campaign has spent $51 million on ads in Virginia. And Mitt Romney’s? $61 million. Over 30,000 ads have run just in the area where Medina lives.
And that’s just a fraction of total campaign advertisement spending. Nationwide, $300 million has been spent on television ads supporting Obama, and $366 million on ads backing Romney. Obama started going negative first, late this spring. Now, most of the ads are negative: 81 percent of Obama’s and 88 percent of Romney’s.
Most of that money is spent in just a few battleground states: over half in Ohio, Florida, or Virginia. And voters in those and other swing states are feeling besieged. But do the ads work? It’s difficult to determine. Researchers say that ads are helpful in local and state races, where name recognition is everything.
But in the race for the White House, negative ads probably do little to change voters’ minds or encourage turnout on Election Day. Across all races nationwide, an estimated $3.3 billion will be spent on political advertising in 2012 — up almost one-third from 2008. And even Ann Romney is sick of the ads. “I don’t want to get myself upset, so I am not watching television for the moment,” she says.