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Richardson Is King of Iowa Airwaves: Numbers Flat Despite Ad Blitz
[October 17, 2007]

Richardson Is King of Iowa Airwaves: Numbers Flat Despite Ad Blitz

(Albuquerque Journal (NM) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Oct. 17--Gov. Bill Richardson has bought more television and radio ads than any other Democratic White House contender, sinking millions of dollars into more than 5,900 spots aimed mostly at Iowa voters, a new analysis shows.

Richardson's Iowa total of 5,225 TV ads as of Oct. 10 far outpaces the number of ads placed by Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and also tops the totals from her two closest competitors, Barack Obama and John Edwards, according to The Nielsen Co. research firm.

Despite the ad blitz, Richardson's polling numbers in that key earlyvoting state have remained mostly stagnant for months, hovering at a distant fourth.

Journal pollster and longtime political observer Brian Sanderoff said Tuesday the polling plateau could be a trouble sign, adding that Richardson's better-financed competitors will surely bomb Iowa airwaves with their own ads in the final months leading up to the January caucuses.

In the early advertising, "he was not competing with the other candidates," Sanderoff said. "Now that he has to compete with candidates with bigger budgets, it will be harder for him to grow his numbers."

Richardson campaign spokesman Tom Reynolds had a different take: He said Tuesday that the Iowa ads have been money well-spent and helped put Richardson within "striking distance" of the leaders.

"In terms of the TV ads, we have gotten exactly what we wanted from them. They introduced the governor, his message and his personality to Iowa," Reynolds said.

"The early, successful ads set the table for the governor to come in and do what he does best: retail politics," Reynolds added.

According to a Monday news release from The Nielsen Co., Richardson had aired a total of 5,814 TV ads as of Oct. 10 and a total of 161 radio spots as of Sept. 2. Ninety percent of his TV ads aired in Iowa, while 584 TV spots aired in New Hampshire -- another key early-voting state.

Clinton aired a total of 2,192 TV spots, with 1,662 aimed at Iowa caucus-goers, according to the Nielsen numbers. Obama aired 4,244 TV ads overall with 4,038 in Iowa, while Edwards aired 550 TV ads overall and 45 in Iowa.

Richardson polls in the low single digits in national Democratic surveys. In May, he hit 10 percent in a Des Moines Register poll of Iowa voters, and he has remained at that general level in Iowa ever since.

Richardson also polls in the low double digits in some New Hampshire surveys.

Richardson's campaign finance reports show he spent more than $2.8 million for advertising from April through September.

University of New Mexico political science professor Lonna Atkeson said Tuesday that while Richardson's advertising helped to give him an early bump, he must now find another way to move up.

"It could be advertising has gotten him as far as it's going to get him -- and the ground war is what really matters (now) in Iowa and New Hampshire," Atkeson said.

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