It’s three weeks from the presidential election and here’s a bold prediction: Mitt Romney will easily take the state’s 11 electoral votes.
The TV networks will redden the parallelogram of Tennessee’s outline about four seconds after the polls close.
It will be, more or less, the only attention the Volunteer State’s electoral makeup will get in the 2012 season.
Electoral College complainers will bemoan that it’s same-as-it-ever-was: Issues important to Tennesseans are ignored in favor of ethanol subsidies, tax deductions for cattle or whatever else Iowans care about. But those critics are missing the upside: Being a noncompetitive state means our TVs remain free of campaign ads.
People who vacation in Florida or, for whatever reason, Ohio surely noticed the wall-to-wall ads Romney and President Obama have foisted upon the masses in more swinging states.
Here? The president’s Big Bird ad has as much chance of running on TV as Mr. Bird has getting the Republican nomination.
Indeed, just about the only ads that ever grace our airwaves are part of national buys, most notably during sporting events, especially if said sporting events involve teams from Colorado.
One of our great civic obsessions (and Obsessions, for that matter) is how Nashville stacks up with Charlotte.
In this case, the Carolinians have us trumped. According to the The Washington Post’s Ad Tracker, the two campaigns have a combined 583 ad buys in the Nashville market, totaling $180,400.
In Charlotte? There have been more than 55,000 buys, coming in at a cool $39 million.
Are there ads for anything else on TV in Charlotte? How will the people know if there is a sale at Joseph A. Bank?
The campaigns have spent $70,000 more in Birmingham, Ala., than in the Nashville market, despite Birmingham being smaller and Alabama no more likely to swing blue than Tennessee.
Not that the attention poured on a city by presidential hopefuls is any indicator of its relative worth. In New York City, a single ad has been purchased. It cost $8,470. Hope it works out for them.
The Ottumwa, Iowa, market has had nearly 10 times as many ads as Nashville — and three times the spending — and they don’t even have a TV show or a football team.
Breaking down the numbers even more, it’s apparent the only reason there are ads in Tennessee at all is a get-out-the-vote effort for Republicans in hopes of fulfilling the dream of eliminating Tennessee Democrats completely.
Sure, it’s fair to say the campaigns have combined for 583 buys and $180,400 in spending. It’s also fair to say Peyton Manning and Peggy Fleming have combined for 413 NFL touchdowns.
The president’s re-election campaign has spent exactly zero dollars in Nashville, which makes Romney’s ad buy the equivalent of installing a telephone in the bathroom. Sure, he can do it, but what’s the point?
So, no, our local affiliates don’t get to benefit from the largesse of billion-dollar campaigns.
On the other hand, we can watch our programs without suffering through the anxiety of knowing the ominous music and spooky voiceovers and grainy black-and-white footage that make up campaign ads are coming to haunt us 13 minutes every hour.
Enjoy the peace of being in a safe state. Our ad-less prime time won’t last forever. A mayoral race is just three years away.