I get what Jim Renacci is doing


The internet lit up yesterday after it was reported that Jim Renacci was pulling all of his broadcast TV ads.

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It seemed like an odd thing to do.

Democrats who struggle to raise money to buy any TV time at all shook their heads in dis-belief. Being the victims of incredible onslaughts of TV ads has bred the belief that one must relentlessly saturate the TV market in order to win. Not doing this will surely bring about defeat. This sentiment was conveyed in several blog posts including here.

I also shook my head when I first read the news. But then I read it more closely and I can at least understand the logic of Jim Renacci’s move.

First, while Jim Renacci, states that he is pulling all his TV broadcast ads, I’m pretty sure that the million dollar corporate lobbyist ads funded by super PACs will remain.

Next, Mr. Renacci’s campaign outlines that they will still be on air making targeted cable TV buys. They state something along the lines of there is too much clutter in the broadcast airwaves. I can understand the logic in this also.

Here’s the deal, all the polling for this race has shown it to be very tight. I think everyone realizes that the race will be about turnout. So why not try to ensure that the people you are talking to are the ones who have the highest probability of voting for you? If the race comes down to just a few hundred votes and you can get that through a target cable TV buy, why not do it?

The warning I’d send to Mr. Renacci’s campaign is I’ve seen this strategy before. Again, in the Democratic world where campaigns struggle to buy any TV time at all, I’ve seen some campaigns try the strategy of precise cable TV ad buys. It can be cheaper than buying bulk TV airtime. The thing is: I don’t think it really raised the vote totals for those candidates. Where the candidates thought they were maximizing their vote totals, after seeing the election results, it really didn’t seem like they got that many more votes from the effort.

Mr. Renacci has made a gamble. With a race like this one, no matter what either side does, it’s going to be a gamble.

Can Renacci’s campaign really calculate the vote turnout and get that one more vote than Betty Sutton, through a targeted cable TV ad buy?

I guess we will see.

But Democrats should take his latest move seriously. If I’m right, what he’s doing is not crazy, there is a method to the madness, and he could win with it.