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CAMPAIGN 2000

Where TV Money Is Going

September 29, 2000|Ronald Brownstein

In presidential politics, everyone watches the national polls. But to win the White House, Al Gore or George W. Bush has to win enough state contests to amass 270 electoral votes. The best way to trace their idea of the road map to victory is to follow the money and look at where they are investing their television advertising budgets.

To do that, the Times has contracted this year with the Campaign Media Analysis Group to track the ad buys made by the candidates and the national parties on their behalf. What follows is a selective look at where the buys are: ten of the states receiving the largest amount of television from the two sides. (The chart combines spending by the Gore campaign and the Democratic National Committee on the one hand; and Bush and the Republican National Committee on the other.)

The chart below shows the impact of a race involving two relatively centrist candidates with broad appeal; each is forcing the other to defend turf his party usually considers safe. Bush is spending heavily to challenge in Democratic-leaning Oregon and Washington state--and forcing Gore to match him dollar for dollar. Gore has invested a significant sum in traditionally Republican-leaning Florida--forcing Bush to spend twice as much there. With Bush buying so heavily in Florida, Gore has outspent the Republican this year in the three major industrial belt battlegrounds: Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Those three states, along with Florida, are receiving the heaviest barrage. By contrast, California, where polls show Gore safely leading, is an afterthought. Republicans have spent about $1.3 million here this year; the Democrats haven't yet even bothered to buy at all.

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