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Bang-for-the-Buck Index: House Edition

by: Crisitunity

Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 12:54 AM EDT

Time for the thrilling conclusion to the Bang-for-the-Buck Index, begun yesterday with the Senate installment. Follow the link for full methodological nitty-gritty, but the main thing that you need to know is that this index shows which races are the cheapest media-wise (and thus where one netroots dollar gets stretched the furthest). This list covers all House races that Swing State Project projects as Dem pickup opportunities.

The middle column lists every media market that needs to be utilized in order to blanket the district, and the number next to each market is the number of thousands of TV households in that market. The more TV households, the more expensive the market. (When a market only grazes a small part of the district where there's no major population center, I've deemed the market negligible, assuming that a smart media buyer wouldn't use that market.) The number in the right column is the sum total of the thousands of TV households in all markets in the district, which provides a relative number that indicates how expensive a media campaign in that district is.

As you'll see, there's a huge amount of variation, depending on the number of 'wasted eyeballs.' The wasted eyeballs problem becomes huge in suburban districts in major metropolitan districts, where you may be paying to advertise to people in the adjacent 10 or 20 districts as well.

Let's start with the cheap races:

WY-ALCheyenne (54)
Casper (52)
Denver (1,415 *)
Salt Lake City (811 *)
Rapid City (91 *)
Billings (103 *)
Idaho Falls (115 *)
106 *
AK-ALAnchorage (141)
Fairbanks (32)
Juneau (24)
LA-05Monroe (174)
Alexandria (93)
Lake Charles (negligible)
Lafayette (negligible)
LA-07Lafayette (220)
Lake Charles (94)
NE-02Omaha (400)400
AL-02Montgomery (245)
Columbus GA (205)
Dothan (98)
SC-01Charleston SC (284)
Myrtle Beach (266)
IA-04Des Moines (414)
Rochester MN (143)
Cedar Rapids (negligible)
Sioux City (negligible)
LA-04Shreveport (382)
Alexandria (93)
Lake Charles (94)
WV-02Charleston WV (478)
Clarksburg (109)
Washington DC (2,253 *)
587 *
IN-03South Bend (333)
Fort Wayne (271)
ID-01Boise (230)
Spokane (390)
NV-03Las Vegas (651)651
NM-01Albuquerque (654)654
VA-02Norfolk (705)705
IL-18Peoria (242)
Champaign (378)
Quincy (104)
Davenport (negligible)
NY-25Rochester (385)
Syracuse (398)
OH-01Cincinnati (880)880
OH-02Cincinnati (880)
Columbus OH (negligible)
Charleston WV (negligible)
OH-15Columbus OH (891)891
NV-02Las Vegas (651)
Reno (255)
Salt Lake City (811 *)
906 *
SC-02Columbia SC (373)
Augusta (246)
Savannah (296)
NM-02Albuquerque (654)
El Paso (291)
Odessa (negligible)
KS-04Wichita (447)
Tulsa (510)

The more expensive races are over the flip...

Crisitunity :: Bang-for-the-Buck Index: House Edition
KY-02Louisville (643)
Evansville (289)
Bowling Green (75)
VA-05Richmond (511)
Roanoke (440)
Charlottesville (70)
Raleigh (negligible)
CA-50San Diego (1,026)1,026
NY-26Buffalo (644)
Rochester (385)
IN-04Indianapolis (1,054)
Lafayette IN (63)
AL-03Birmingham (717)
Montgomery (245)
Columbus GA (205)
Atlanta (negligible)
MO-06Kansas City (904)
St. Joseph (46)
Columbia MO (168)
Ottumwa (51)
Omaha (negligible)
PA-18Pittsburgh (1,170)1,170
MD-01Baltimore (1,089)
Salisbury (148)
FL-08Orlando (1,346)1,346
FL-24Orlando (1,346)1,346
OH-07Columbus OH (891)
Dayton (514)
FL-18Miami (1,523)1,523
FL-21Miami (1,523)1,523
NY-29Buffalo (644)
Rochester NY (385)
Syracuse (398)
Elmira (97)
OH-16Cleveland (1,542)1,542
MO-09St. Louis (1,222)
Columbia MO (168)
Quincy (104)
Ottumwa (51)
PA-03Pittsburgh (1,170)
Erie (159)
Youngstown (277)
MN-02Minneapolis (1,653)1,653
MN-03Minneapolis (1,653)1,653
MN-06Minneapolis (1,653)1,653
AZ-01Phoenix (1,660)
Albuquerque (negligible)
AZ-03Phoenix (1,660)1,660
WA-08Seattle (1,702)1,702
FL-09Tampa (1,710)1,710
FL-10Tampa (1,710)1,710
CO-04Denver (1,415)
Colorado Spgs. (315)
CA-04Sacramento (1,346)
Chico (191)
Reno (255)
OH-14Cleveland (1,542)
Youngstown (277)
NC-10Charlotte (1,020)
Greenville SC (815)
MI-09Detroit (1,936)1,936
TX-07Houston (1,939)1,939
FL-25Miami (1,523)
Ft. Myers (462)
FL-15Orlando (1,346)
W. Palm Beach (752)
FL-13Tampa (1,710)
Ft. Myers (462)
VA-10Washington DC (2,253)2,253
VA-11Washington DC (2,253)2,253
TX-10Houston (1,939)
Austin (589)
NC-08Charlotte (1,020)
Greensboro (652)
Raleigh (985)
Myrtle Beach (266)
PA-06Philadelphia (2,926)2,926
PA-15Philadelphia (2,926)2,926
MI-07Detroit (1,936)
Toledo (427)
Lansing (257)
Grand Rapids (732)
IL-06Chicago (3,431)3,431
IL-10Chicago (3,431)3,431
IL-13Chicago (3,431)3,431
PA-05Pittsburgh (1,170)
Buffalo (644)
Harrisburg (707)
Wilkes-Barre (589)
Erie (159)
Elmira (97)
Johnstown (295)
IL-11Chicago (3,431)
Peoria (242)
Davenport (308)
CA-26Los Angeles (5,536)5,536
CA-46Los Angeles (5,536)5,536
CA-45Los Angeles (5,536)
Palm Springs (143)
CT-04New York (7,380)
Hartford (negligible)
NY-13New York (7,380)7,380
NJ-05New York (7,380)7,380
NJ-07New York (7,380)7,380
NJ-03New York (7,380)
Philadelphia (2,926)
NJ-04New York (7,380)
Philadelphia (2,926)

You may have noticed a few asterisked races; I'll explain each one. WV-02 is partially covered by the Washington media market, which reaches into the tip of the panhandle (which is rapidly turning into DC exurbs). Advertising in DC is prohibitively expensive, so I've excluded it even though the panhandle is a populous part of the district. Like Manchester, New Hampshire (which we talked about yesteray), however, this is an unusual situation where there's a single station nearby that's considered to operate within the larger DC market, in this case in Hagerstown, Maryland. It's likely that most of the WV-02 advertising targeting the panhandle would go through this one station.

NV-02 is partly covered by the Salt Lake City market (the easternmost three counties). This area contains fast-growing Elko, so it can't be written off entirely, but again, it's unlikely that any media strategy here would include SLC.

And finally, Wyoming is a particularly perplexing case. Using just the in-state markets in Cheyenne and Casper, it's the cheapest district anywhere. However, these two markets cover only about 50% of the state's population; the rest is out-of-state markets like Denver and SLC, so a comprehensive broadcast-TV strategy would shoot Wyoming into very expensive district territory. Most likely, the outlying portions of Wyoming are targeted purely through direct mail, AM radio, possibly cable systems, and as Gary Trauner adeptly showed last time, face-to-face contact.

You may have also noticed a number of predominantly rural districts that should theoretically be cheap but in fact are very expensive; MI-07 and NC-08 are key examples, each of which are kind of located between major cities and wind up biting a corner out of a bunch of different markets. Poor PA-05 is the perhaps the worst example; it doesn't even have any TV stations in its boundaries, but it takes bites out of about 8 surrounding markets. Districts like these, again, are probably dealt with creatively, with buys in some TV markets and more focus on cable and other media.

The focus on cable, direct mail, and the like also probably becomes more important in the most expensive urban markets (New Jersey, anyone?) where even the best-financed House candidate isn't going to be able to go on the air much. As I said yesterday, much of this is conjecture (and I certainly welcome comment from anyone with more experience with campaigning in any of these districts, or media buying in general); it's just a rough guide to help netroots donors find races where their dollars might be used particularly efficiently.

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This is an excellent resource
Thank you for taking the time to put it together!

CA-26, CA-45, and CA-46
   Nobody who is not insanely rich would ever consider broadcast TV in the Los Angeles market for a Congressional race. The only one I can think of who did use it was Jane Harman (who is wealthy)when she first ran for Congress. There are just too many wasted eyeballs with something like twenty districts in the area. Cable TV is a possibility because it can be targetted by area and type of programming. Direct mail is big, too. Maybe you could use a Palm Springs station ( if there is one) for CA-45 but otherwise forget it.

52, male, disgruntled Democrat, CA-28

In 2006
the WA-08 campaign was fought mostly on the air (at tedious length). Now Seattle's an expensive market, and there's a lot of eyeball wastage (it covers at least part of seven different House districts). So I have to wonder just where the breaking point is for where a market gets too expensive for House advertising. Clearly it's somewhere in size between LA and Seattle, then.

[ Parent ]
do you mean Louisiana or Los Angeles?

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]
Los Angeles
As you probably saw on the list, Louisiana, at least the rural parts, is remarkably cheap.

[ Parent ]
PA-15 also has no local stations.  I used to live there.  Viewers get a combination of NY City and Philly broadcast usually via cable.  In fact, cable tv was invented for this market in 1948 in an attempt to sell those newfangled Tvs.  Service Electric is still around but now has competition in the area in the form of RCN.

Fwiw, Pat Toomey (nearly US Senate nominee, now head of Club For Growth) won his primary in PA-15 despite avoiding cable (or at least Service Electric).  I saw a lot of Toomey road signs that year.  His opponent was on cable all the time.  The local papers talked about Toomey with respect but my read is that neither the Allentown Morning Call nor the Easton Express had much idea what was going on.  I would guess that districts like this tend to provoke unconventional campaign methods in part because the conventional methods are just so expensive and wasteful.

If I remember correctly
from living in PA, Allentown has an independent station, the unfortunately-named Channel 69. But it's subsumed into the larger Philly market.

[ Parent ]
Lived in Easton twice
The three main cities in the area are Allentown (furthest west), Bethlehem, and Easton.  Easton is located about 65 miles west of NY City and 65 miles north of Philadelphia.  Allentown is about 20 to 25 miles west of Easton.  Easton is more connected to New York City than Philadelphia.  I-78 connects through 80 and 95 into the city while Philly is reached either by detouring through Allentown or by local roads.  Allentown connects to Philly by the PA Turnpike extension.  I'd say Allentown is more Philly oriented.

Wikipedia lists three TV stations in the area: Channel 39 (a PBS station), Channel 60 (a religious channel) and your channel 69 (listed as 67? sometimes), WFMZ.  Despite that, cable is the way to go as most news is either cable or through the big NY and Philly channels.

I lived in Easton twice, as a college student in the 70s and as an independent project worker/small business in the 90s (cheaper than Jersey or NY).  I sort of remember a station from my student days but by the 90s my neighbors all had cable and local TV was the "cable station" broadcasting local college and high school sports and news and not a small broadcast station.

Of course, this means that anybody advertising in the Lehigh Valley would use cable rather than broadcast.  I don't know what percentage of TV households in the area have cable but I would guess at least 85% to 90%.  Nationally, the number is closer to 60 to 65%.

[ Parent ]
KS-04--why is Tulsa TV needed?
I don't think a candidate in this district needs to use the Tulsa market.  The two counties closer to Tulsa than Wichita are Montgomery (36,000). In Montgomery County. Independence (9,317) is closer to Wichita and Coffeyville (10,387) is closer to Tulsa.

I grew up in Winfield (Cowley County) which borders Oklahoma. We couldn't get Tulsa stations in the pre-cable days and they aren't on cable there.  

Chautauqua and Montgomery
are the two counties that are in the Tulsa market. That only makes up about 6% of the population in the district, so, yeah, you could probably skip the Tulsa market, most definitely so if people there are watching Wichita TV on cable. Thanks.

[ Parent ]
Delaware's covered by Philadelphia (only state without its own TV station), and I think Salisbury (and possibly Baltimore). Hugely expensive state. Which is why we're perpetually stuck with Mike "Let's Put Stuff On Our Coins" Castle.

Delaware Liberal - biggest and best blog in Delaware.

Does the Hartford media market cover New Haven? If so, then the Hartford numbers will be more than negligible, as CT's ABC (and CW) affiliate is located in New Haven. The NBC and CBS affiliates are in Hartford and are more Hartford-centric, while WTNH (ABC) in New Haven tends to focus more on southern CT, and I believe that it gets fairly decent ratings in Fairfield County, especially in Bridgeport and its surrounding suburbs.

It's a bit of a problem; all of CT-04 gets the CT broadcast stations while also getting the major New York stations.

I guess I should also mention that Cablevision-owned Channel 12 has a station based in Bridgeport that caters exclusively to Fairfield County, making it even more difficult to reach voters.

The DCCC would do better to just buy up some billboards on I-95 (CT-04 residents are always waiting in traffic anyway) and buy some advertising on the train platforms, and better have some people on the train platforms in Stamford and Grand Central handing out literature.  

Hartford and New Haven
are considered to be the same media market, even though there are stations in each one, probably because they're so close together.

The dividing line between the Hartford and New York markets is the line between Fairfield and New Haven counties (see here). CT-04 is almost entirely in Fairfield County, though. It looks like it spills over into maybe only one town in New Haven County (looks like Oxford), so that's why I said Hartford market was 'negligible.'

Again, this is another case where the media buy needs to be uniquely tailored to the district, and your suggestions (buy some time on the lone New Haven station and Bridgeport cable, focus on transit advertising) sound right on.

[ Parent ]
Maybe they could buy out those billboards from those damn adult video stores too
Might even be slightly helpful to our collective image as Democrats, if they can make headlines buying out those billboards from their controversial V.I.P. displays.  (The chain's name is Very Intimate Pleasures, hence the abbreviation.)

(I'm still pissed that V.I.P. bought out that going-out-of-business furniture store located RIGHT WHERE YOU GET OFF THE HIGHWAY WHEN COMING TO OUR TOWN.)

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]
Great work
your the best!

I hope it helps
with your PIE score project. It seemed like this was the missing link you needed.

[ Parent ]
Three questions
1.  To what extent can a candidate target using cable?  That is very possible here in the SF Bay Area, though it's still expensive.

2.  If a cnadidate were strong (had a base) in one part of a mixed media market, could s/he save moeny and do most of the advertising ion the other part(s), especially bio ads?

3.  TV isn't everything, so we shouldn't assume that money sent to some of these candidates won;t be effective in reaching vpoters through other means, especially with a vogorous campaign using ground, radio etc.

4.  (Bonus questions)  How come small town/rural voters are both conservative and in cheap media markets?  Why does it have to cost so much to reach voters in mome liberal areas?  Is this part of the GOP's secret?

Good questions
1. It seems like, if you wanted to spend a lot of time and money on data-crunching for effective micro-targeting, you could make cable the cornerstone of your media strategy. But it seems like campaigns are only just starting to think about that.

2. I can't think of a lot of districts where that would be the case, but yes. Just looking at the list, one that comes to mind is AL-02. Bobby Bright is assumedly well known in Montgomery, so he could dump all his allocated bio-ad money into Dothan (until everyone in town knows the name of his 2nd grade teacher).

3. That's not a question, but yes, absolutely. In fact, necessity is the mother of invention, so it's quite likely that an underfunded campaign in a difficult market is likely to innovate and may well use its money more wisely than a campaign with a lot of money.

4. Well, a transmitter only reaches so far. If it covers only tens of thousands of people, spread out over a wide area, it won't be expensive to buy ads there. If it covers a few million, it will be expensive, even if you only want to reach a few hundred thousand of those viewers. (As for why rural people in general tend to be more conservative, well, that's the subject for a whole nother diary. Or book.)

[ Parent ]
PA 5
I live in Pennsylvania 5.  The local TV news stations are terrible - just a police blotter of the latest robbery, murder, fire, etc.
Local politicians win with the old fashion methods - phone banks, lawn signs, mailers, word of mouth.
The one media market that might be effective is the local radio stations -- they are cheap and everyone listens to them.  Also local newspapers will carry ads and they are relatively cheap as well.
This year we are hoping that the 50 state strategy will have an effect and also the enthusiasm from Obama.
Several counties in 5 now have more Democrats registered than Republicans for the first time. Penn State students have been very active as well and are in PA 5.
Anyone wants to contribute - send money to  The Repub cnadidate is not particularly well funded and can be beat.

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