Columbus, Ohio — Paul Ryan arrives in Ohio today to kick off a bus tour for this pivotal swing state. But the real effort here by both sides is in an unprecedented air war of competing TV ads.
In the Columbus media market, which covers the central part of the state, an astonishing 18,482 presidential campaigns ads aired during a week in late August. Kantar Media, which monitors media placements, reports that is three times the number shown in the 2004 presidential election when George W. Bush carried Ohio by 118,000 votes — and double the number of ads run in 2008 when Barack Obama won Ohio.
Not surprisingly, almost all of the ads are entirely negative. Mitt Romney is portrayed as a heartless ravager of social programs while Barack Obama is denounced as an incompetent failure.
The ads are so frequent that most people I’ve talked to here automatically tune them out. “I’m not sure anyone is getting their money’s worth,” Tom Zawistowski of the Portage County Tea Party told me.
But neither campaign thinks it can let up. Ohio has voted for the winner in twelve consecutive presidential elections since 1964, the longest such streak of any state. In those elections its results have always been within 1.3 percentage points of the national popular vote.
This state and a handful of others are must-wins for both sides, which is why Ohioans feel they are under siege from a barrage of TV ads while most solidly red or blue states are seeing only a “phony war” with nary an ad in sight.