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Myth Information: Why Newspapers are more important than ever in the 2014 Elections

John Kimball

If you think in this age of “new media” that newspapers are not important to winning elections … think again. Today, no medium has a higher correlation with voters than newspapers. In fact, newspapers provide much of the “news” content on the internet. In little more than a decade, political newspaper advertising has skyrocketed from a low of only $50 million in 2002 to over $700 million in 2012 … surpassing radio in gross political sales.   Perhaps that’s why more and more political media buyers are using newspapers. Here are some solid reasons why.

Readers Voters. Voter Read. 

Surveys of voters consistently tell the same story … Readers Voters. Voter Read.  It’s that simple. A national survey by McLaughlin and Associates in January of this year is a good example.  It found that:

  • 92% of all registered voters read a newspaper either in print of online at least once a week.

  • 64% read a newspaper daily or several times a week.

  • Of likely voters the number is also 92% read a newspaper either in print of online at least once a week.

  • Only 5.9% of likely voters “never” read a newspaper.

  • And reading a newspaper is one of the few things on which Republicans, Democrats and Independents, men and women can agree. 93% of Republicans; 93% of Democrats and 90% of Independents; 91% of men and 87% of women are regular newspapers readers.  Compare that to the 60% of Americans who have never sent a text message or used Facebook and it’s even more impressive.

So voters read but readers also vote….

In the last presidential election, 9 out of 10 newspaper readers cast a ballot.  In the 2012 mid-term elections, when voting is typically much lighter, newspaper readers still delivered the vote, with more than 8 out of 10 newspaper readers going to the polls.

So there you have it, both sides of the coin that could flip your campaign into the winning column.

Newspapers Reach Crucial Undecided Voters

The conventional wisdom among consultants is that only 10-15% of the electorate is typically up for grabs in any given campaign.  In reality, that number is often much higher.  That’s because while only 10-15% of voters may be truly “undecided,” many more are far from certain about their vote.  Among those who say they experience some indecision, three out of four are regular newspaper readers.  Newspapers can put your message in the hands of this crucial constituency.

Voters consistently look to newspapers to help make up their minds about how they’ll vote.  While the perceived usefulness of other media rises and falls as the campaign progresses, newspapers maintain their strength for influencing voter opinion.

Newspapers Are Targetable In Both Print And Online Versions.

Everyone knows the endless options for targeting online advertising.  Newspapers are no exception.  But do you know why many “direct mail” consultants are turning to newspapers to replace the weakest link in their business, the post office? They’re turning to newspapers because they can deliver your message right to the doorsteps of the critical voters you need to reach.  Most major metropolitan newspapers have established sections based on geographic zones and can target a pre-printed flier or brochure for insertion and delivery within a specific zip code.  Many can even target delivery down to the census tract, block, or even house by house.  Your message can be delivered in a flyer or brochure, on a “Post-it” note placed on the front page, or even on the very poly/delivery bag in which the newspaper arrives.  Poly/delivery bags are especially useful for getting out the vote on Election Day. And… many newspapers offer digital geo-targeting by congressional district so messages can be delivered only to those who can vote for a particular candidate.

Hispanic Voters Prefer Newspapers For Political News

In a major new survey taken among registered voters in California and Texas who self-identify as Hispanic, newspapers (either print or online versions), ranked second only to television as the preferred method of receiving campaign information.

The “Hispanic/Latino Voter Survey,” which was commissioned by Univision Communications, parent company of Spanish language Univision television found that while no single media source reaches all Hispanic voters, newspapers were a strong second to television among this emerging and powerful voting bloc. Newspapers were preferred over radio, phone calls and even social networking sites like Facebook. Over half the respondents in Texas said newspapers were their preferred method of receiving candidate information and nearly a third in California also preferred newspapers. 

Nationally, in the January 2014 McLaughlin survey, an impressive 88% of self-identified Hispanics described themselves as regular newspaper readers.

All Politics Is Local … The Medium Is Still The Message.

Voters know newspapers are the place to go to find out what’s going on in their communities.  They know that unlike television or radio news programs, newspapers cover local issues every day of the week.  They know their local paper will provide real, in-depth coverage of the local issues most important to them ...  the same issues that often determine how they’ll vote on Election Day. 

Newspapers Are Credible

Nobody reads a newspaper to escape from reality as is often the case with television and radio.  Voters look to newspapers for the information they need to make up their minds about candidates and issues.  Newspapers rank second only to television among voters when it comes to providing the most helpful information about state and local elections. Newspaper advertising gives campaigns an aura of credibility and respectability that’s unmatched by other mediums.

 It’s Easy to Advertise In Newspapers 

 Placing political ads in newspapers has never been easier.  Typically the media buy can be completed with a single order and check.  Nearly every state has its own press association that can help with all of your planning and buying needs for state-wide races.  And most associations have their own trained political sales staff for print or digital.

Individual papers have made buying even easier with programs that offer the full portfolio of products from print, to online, mobile, inserts and other products – all in easy-to-understand packages.

The bottom line is that when it comes to reaching voters, newspapers continue to deliver.

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