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So far, Johnson is the only presidential candidate to book broadcast ads in Minnesota

REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
An Ad Age report shows that Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has reserved $122,000 in Minnesota advertising, to be placed on radio.

If Donald Trump is making inroads among Minnesota voters — as his supporters claim — there’s no evidence of that in the form of broadcast political ads.

Trump and Hillary Clinton and the PACs that support them have booked zero dollars in the Minnesota broadcast markets through November 7, according to an analysis by Advertising Age.

The surprise is the presidential candidate that has booked ad time — Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. The Ad Age report shows that Johnson has reserved $122,000 in Minnesota advertising, to be placed on radio. It’s part of a roughly $1.5 million dollar ad buy designed not so much to win votes as to raise Johnson’s profile sufficiently to be included in the presidential debates.

The Johnson spending, though, is a pittance compared to Trump and especially Clinton. As of the end of August, Ad Age estimates that Clinton has reserved $109 million in broadcast ad time; Trump reserved $5 million of the same.  Most of this is targeted to voters in the east and southeast markets with particular focus on Ohio and Pennsylvania. And it will remain that way for the rest of the campaign.

“We’re such a blue state that we generally don’t see much from the presidential candidates [in any election year],” said Ray Mirabella, sales director for KSTP-TV.  

From a TV sales perspective, the bright spots in the Twin Cities this political year are competitive congressional races. Mirabella says KSTP has taken orders from third district candidates Eric Paulsen and Terri Bonoff, eighth district candidates Stuart Mills and Rick Nolan, and second district candidate Angie Craig. He said he’s expecting Craig’s opponent Jason Lewis to make an ad purchase shortly.

And that’s just the ads placed by the candidates. “The candidate money is substantial but not anywhere near what the PAC money and congressional committee money is,” Mirabella said.

As for the absence of Clinton and Trump ads, they may yet appear on Minnesota broadcast outlets. “The race may be tightening so we may see some presidential ads in the future,” Mirabella said. “And with election on November 8, we have almost a full week more of time to sell than we’ve had in other election years.”

Furthermore, Mirabella notes that political advertising is always unpredictable. “There’s no such thing as normal,” he said.  The political advertising cycle in a highly unusual presidential campaign may just be following suit.

Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Jim Million on 09/15/2016 - 10:08 am.

    Minnesota Realities

    It seems both Clinton and Trump organizations understand these. Their respective funds are better spent in Wisconsin this year.

    It will be interesting to learn what, if any, traction Gary Johnson got here.

  2. Submitted by C.S. Senne on 09/15/2016 - 03:09 pm.


    “Aleppo. What’s Aleppo?”

  3. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 09/15/2016 - 03:15 pm.

    Right. What we need is a pothead New Mexico with some of the wildest Liberatarian and anti-female views–even worse than Trump’s–in the country. Johnson is a very, very, Johnny-come-lately who would take a lot of votes away from Hillary Clinton. And, he would dilute the voters’ only chance to see how unprepared and vapid, maybe even unstably volatile, Donald Trump is, at the debates.

    Good for the local TV companies to concentrate on more local political battles in their thirst for ad buys from politicians.

    • Submitted by Brad Winter on 09/15/2016 - 10:15 pm.

      There is absolutely no way a Libertarian can be anti-female. I have no idea where anyone could come up with that idea. I don’t have any idea what the “Johnny come lately” line even means. As far as “taking votes” from Clinton, no, just no. A candidate cannot “take” votes from another. A person votes for the candidate of their choice, if another candidate fails to get said vote from said person, it is on that candidate for not convincing the vote to vote for them.

  4. Submitted by Jim Million on 09/15/2016 - 08:01 pm.


    I have spent nearly no time evaluating Gary Johnson, so the female issue is unknown to me. Is that Libertarian orthodoxy or Johnson personal disposition? I truly would appreciate your further discussion of such, not that Gary Johnson will mean much in this election. Thanks for any elaboration you may make.

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