Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Ohio at the heart of it all to Bush, Kerry



By Carl Weiser
Enquirer Washington Bureau

ELECTION SECTION
Election 2004 page
WASHINGTON - The presidential campaigns are focusing on an increasingly smaller set of states, but Ohio remains right where it has been from the campaign's beginning: battleground central.

"Residents of Ohio and Florida continue to be in the center of the advertising storm," concludes a report out Tuesday from the nonpartisan University of Wisconsin Advertising Project, which tracks presidential campaign ads.

The latest report shows at least one Ohio city - Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo or Dayton - on lists of top 10 markets targeted by the political parties, the two candidates themselves, or independent groups.

Cincinnati ranked 6th in markets targeted by the Bush campaign since Sept. 24, and 5th in markets targeted by the Democratic National Committee.

"We're in the middle of it all, from both sides," said Bill Fee, general manager of WCPO-TV. And the ads will only get more frequent. The last week before the election, three out of four ads aired during news and prime time will be political ads, Fee said.

Ohio residents scarcely need reminding that they are pivotal in this year's presidential election. Vice President Dick Cheney was in Batavia on Monday, and Sen. John Kerry returns to Southeast Ohio this weekend - his 21st trip to Ohio.

The advertising provides clues to states the campaigns think can be won. In the spring, Missouri was a top ad target; now Kerry has essentially conceded the state to Bush. Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico have emerged as top battleground states.

The report looked at 210 media markets, most of which are being ignored by the campaigns, since they are not in the shrinking pool of battleground states. Aside from ads seen on national cable networks, seven of 10 Americans won't be seeing presidential-campaign ads.

"The end-game of this advertising battle is now purely about reaching the 270 Electoral College votes needed, and focusing resources on the handful of states where the result remains in any doubt," said Ken Goldstein, director of the project and professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin.

Overall, Cincinnati ranked 23rd in total campaign ads aired since Sept. 24. Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Dayton all ranked higher.

Miami, Albuquerque, N.M., and Reno, Nev., were tops nationally.




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