Could it be that technology may be bringing toward a close one of the central problems in American politics that earlier technology helped create?
The large problem is money - the massive amounts of money raised and spent in political campaigns, and which this year have broken all sorts of new records in the Northwest as elsewhere - most expensive governor's race in Idaho, most expensive Senate race (almost certainly) in Washington, most expensive House race ever in Idaho . . . on and on. Where money is a problem in politics, we clearly still are in the belly of the monster.
How is all that money spent - or, put another way, what do they need it for? The big component is broadcast, mostly television, advertising. For a generation, the political theory is that a candidate who can heavily outspend an opponent - which translates to, air many more TV spots than the opponent - will often win. (Of course, you have to factor in that many well-funded candidates get well funded because they are considered strong prospects to win.) Campaigns use money for other things too, but if you struck TV advertising off the budget, the size of many of those warchests would shrivel.
So: What if it turns out that TFV ads are simply becoming ineffective as opinion drivers, are no longer helping candidates win elections?
We'll get a more definitive read on that next Tuesday night. But if, for purposes of this discussion, we can assume that recent polls are reasonably predictive, then we may be seeing the early stages of decline in political TV advertising - which could turn out to be one of the best developments for years in the conduct of politics in this country. (more…)