This will eventually happen, that whoever spends the most on tv ads is spending the most on something that will not actually get them elected. By Randy over at Ridenbaugh has two solid examples:
Today’s Oregonian/KATU-TV poll, which falls in line wth several recent polls (one exception being a Zogby outlier), provides one bit of evidence. It gives Democratic incumbent Governor Ted Kulongoski a seven-point lead, more or less tracking what most polls over the last month have shown: A modest but discernible, and very slightly growing, lead over Republican challenger Ron Saxton. What’s remarkable is that this happened after one of the biggest TV ad barrages Oregon has ever seen, in which Saxton outspent Kulongoski during the general election campaign by about two to one. If TV were the key to the election, Saxton would be comfortably ahead by now.
So you say that Oregon is Democratic-leaning anyway? Apart from the debatability of that proposition, consider Idaho’s first congressional district, where Republican Bill Sali has nearly two-to-one outspent Democrat Larry Grant; when third-party efforts are factored in, Grant may be outspent nearly three to one. And yet two solid polls put the race at a dead heat, with Grant on the move. Same story in the Idaho governor’s race, where Republican Butch Otter has outraised Democrat Jerry Brady more than two to one, and likewise finds himself a in a dead heat. Same, as well, in Washington’s 5th district, where Republican incumbent Cathy McMorris is outspending Democrat Peter Goldmark two to one, only to see Goldmark rising rapidly into shooting range.