Presidential Race Cost $100 Million in Ohio TV Ads

The battle for Ohio in last year’s presidential campaign came with a huge price tag: $100 million for television advertising alone, according to a new study.

Ohio residents saw “a level of campaign activity unprecedented in modern times,” according to the study released last week by five political science professors from the universities of Cincinnati and Akron.

“Everyone had the sense that this was the most intense campaign ever and, by gosh, it was,” said one of the authors, John Green, of the University of Akron.

The election turned on Ohio’s 20 Electoral College votes. Not until preliminary results were available early on Nov. 3 did Democratic challenger John Kerry concede.

Kerry and his Democratic allies spent $61 million on television ads compared with $39 million by President Bush and Republican groups. Together, the two campaigns spent as much on television ads as Bush spent nationwide to win the 2000 Republican nomination, the study said.

Both sides also spent an estimated $50 million for mailings, door-to-door contacts and phone calls, the study said.

“We’ve just never seen anything like this,” Green said. “We had this ferocious air war and this ferocious ground war at the same time.”

The study also noted the important role played by religious leaders and organizations across Ohio, including the Christian Coalition, which handed out 2 million voter guides; James Dobson’s Focus on the Family; and Citizens for Community Values, a group that sent 2.5 million bulletin inserts to 17,000 Ohio churches.

“Unlike past years, the pastors were very engaged in this campaign,” Green said. “I’m convinced that there was a positive spillover to the Bush campaign. That all that activism turned out a lot of extra people.”