President Barack Obama is running for re-election, and he and his opponent, Mitt Romney, are spending lots of money to broadcast commercials to voters. They hope that the ads will persuade people to vote for them on Election Day.
Political ads are a lot like other TV commercials. But there are a few differences. For one thing, many of the political ads are negative. That is, they tell you something bad about the other candidate rather than saying something positive about the candidate who placed the ad.
Candidates have been saying negative things about each other for a long time. One famous commercial put on by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 suggested that if his opponent became president, he might start a war that would destroy the world.
This year, there are more campaign ads on TV than ever before. Mr. Obama, the Democratic nominee, and former Massachusetts governor Mr. Romney, the Republican, have raised millions of dollars from supporters to pay for ad campaigns. But they're not the only ones advertising. The Republican Party is buying ads to help Mr. Romney, while the Democratic Party is helping Mr. Obama. A few other groups have formed just to run ads for or against a candidate.
Some people feel too much money is being spent to run too many ads. But others say everyone has the right to advertise.
One of the interesting things about all these ads is that many voters won't ever see them. Almost all of the commercials are airing in about eight states, not the whole country. The states with lots of advertising are known as "swing" states because the race is so close in them that it could swing in either direction on Nov. 6, Election Day. The candidates don't spend much money on commercials in states where they know they'll win or lose by a lot of votes.
The candidates also advertise on radio, in newspapers and on the Internet. But TV gets most of the attention, because many voters who still don't know for whom they will vote are watching TV and are likely to see the ads. Who knows? Maybe watching a few more commercials will help them make up their minds.
First Published October 22, 2012 12:00 AM