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National Journal: Which Markets Will Be Big Players For 2012 Campaign Ads?

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It may be almost a year until Americans select their next president, but campaign ads are already picking up. Political ads can be potent for campaigns, but they can also be lucrative for media outlets. 

Reid Wilson, editor-in-chief of the National Journal Hotline, has been looking at which media markets will be the biggest targets for campaign ads in 2012, and he anticipates that Washington, D.C. will be high on the list. He talked with WAMU Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey about what he found.

Here are some highlights from the conversation: 

Why the Washington market is so big for political advertising: "President Obama is really intent on winning the electoral vote in Virginia; there is also a key Senate race in Virginia, and key house races in Northern Virginia, and in eastern Maryland, where Congressman Roscoe Bartlett faces a real challenge this year," says Wilson. "Even a safe Democrat like Rep. Chris Van Hollen has a couple hundred thousand new constituents that he's going to have to advertise and intro himself to."

Where D.C. stands in comparison to the other top five markets (Las Vegas, Orlando, Charlotte, N.C. and Columbus, Ohio) for political ads going into 2012: "Washington is already one of the most expensive media markets in the country, and so because of this rush to pick up this … very limited supply, we're going to see those prices go up even higher," says Wilson.

Other impacts of political ads on the market, other than cost: "Four years ago, in Iowa and New Hampshire, there were so many political ads … right during the holiday season that some retailers complained that they couldn't get their own ads on the air," Wilson says. "So we may see a lot fewer ads for Eastern Motors or something like that and a lot more ads for Tim Kaine or George Allen in the Virginia Senate race next year." 

When sales will start to take off: "We're going to have to see candidates coming out with their own ads … maybe as early as July or August, to tell their own story, and then let those outside groups, who are going to spend tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars this year, come blasting in in September or October," Wilson says. "A lot of candidates are going to be priced out of their own race, which means they have to start earlier to get their message on the air."

A sampling of some campaign ads from recent weeks:
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