837,400 Political Ads (Later) – The 2014 Elections

By November 5th, 2014

837,400 Political Ads (Later)

by Mack W. Borgen

Regardless of one’s opinion about the results of Tuesday’s midterm elections, it will be good to get our TVs back.

Wholly aside from the billboards, flyers, door knocking, doorbell ringing, get-out-to-vote campaigns, direct mail letters, robo-calls, and all of the other money-spent political enterprises of the last months, it was estimated that about 837,400 political TV advertisements were run during this last election cycle. For those with a calculator and too much time on their hands (presumably like me, I guess), that comes out to about 14,000 political broadcast ads a day for the last 60 days ….

And the dirty little secret is that all of that time, energy and money were spent in order to reach those seven folks (living somewhere in Kansas or North Carolina or wherever) who hadn’t already made up their minds in late August….

There are many good people in and associated politics, but our elections seem to keep missing the point. Not enough good people and good ideas are breaking through. It’s almost always good to inject new blood and welcome young faces, but that seems to be happening less and less in our political process. Instead, we are stuck with 51%-49% / 49%-51% ping-pong elections. We are stuck with Harry Byrd or Mitch McConnell. Ying and Yang, Ping and Pong, On and On, Back and Forth. For our foreseeable eternity.

We will survive. Our country will survive. In fact, political campaigns have always been – using the unique math of our Congress — half folly, half party, and half trash. But things are more serious now. Certainly the game isn’t yet over. Certainly we still have many blessings to count. But the jig will eventually be up if we don’t make some changes. As for now — 837,000 TV ads. Really. In the jargon of Nate Silver, the noise is killing the signal.

It is long past time that we, not they, find a better way to conduct our political campaigns and select our leaders. As we watched our TVs last night, it seemed almost obvious – regardless which party you favored and regardless of whether you were drinking in celebration or in sorrow — that style had again dominated over substance; that mediocrity was rampant (and often victorious); and that personal ambitions trumped public service.

Every election is meaningful. Every election holds some secrets, and every election cycle, if honestly considered, reminds us of what we must do. I respectfully suggest that this election should, above all else, remind us that the era of career politicians, market-designed campaigns, and word-tailored speeches must end.

There are many means to this end, but first and foremost is to end the undaunted job security of Congressional office which is assured by a thick witches brew  — blended from the taint and influence of unlimited money, from the absence of term limits, from the raw exercise of party machines, and from the applied science of gerrymandering.

But for now, it may be time to take a break; time to take back our TVs. For those poor souls without a Netflix or DVRs, a new stream of car ads and “Tomorrow on Today” and “News at 11” promos will be coming back soon.

And the world is back in order. For now.


Blog No. 50

November 5, 2014

By Mack W. Borgen

University of California at Berkeley (Cum Laude, Economics); Harvard Law School

Author, The Relevance of Reason – The Hard Facts and Real Data About the State of Current America – Business and Politics (Vol. 1) (408 pp) (2013) and  – Society and Culture (Vol 2)(438 pp)(2013)

Copyright 2014. Mack W. Borgen. All rights reserved. No part of this Blog Article may be reproduced or transmitted, except in the case of brief quotations and with reference to this Blog Article, without the prior written permission of the author.


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