As Iowans participate in precinct caucuses Monday, they’ll do so after months of candidates holding campaign events, knocking on their doors, and eating their food.
But when they turned on their TVs in recent weeks, first-in-the-nation caucus-goers were also bombarded by campaign and super PAC ads, totaling more than 350 hours in just the last two months, according to a National Journal analysis of data provided by the Political TV Ad Archive, a project sponsored by the Knight Foundation.
The analysis does not address ads aired on the final weekend, when some candidates released closing arguments. That includes the most recent infomercial launched by Marco Rubio’s campaign, which contained a 30-minute televised townhall.
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.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have relative parity in TV time in the weeks leading up to their first official contest, where Clinton nominally led Sanders by 3 points in the latest Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll released Saturday.
When it comes to garnering airtime, all spots are not created equal; certain ads wind up having a much stronger airwaves presence than others. Leading up to Monday, the most frequently aired spot in Iowa came from Sanders. Combined, Sanders’s ads, often composed of direct-to-camera appeals on domestic policy, account for nearly a quarter of the state's presidential campaign ads.