Poll: TV Advertising in Mayoral Contest Not Having Much Effect

20150914 Becker AdsWe should know by Wednesday exactly how much money Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker has spent on his TV ads, but a new poll by UtahPolicy shows while most Salt Lakers have seen his ads, only 20 percent say they made them more likely to vote for him.

Running TV ads in the mayoral race was always a questionable tactic – since the ads are seen by all Utahns, even some who live in nearby states, and by far most viewers can’t vote in this tight election.

Still, by some guesses Becker will spend more than $500,000 on the ads (the numbers will be revealed in campaign financial disclosures due seven days before the Nov. 3 general election).

In contrast, Becker’s opponent, Jackie Biskupski, has purchased just a fraction of Becker’s TV ad time.

The new poll by Dan Jones & Associates finds that only 20 percent of those who saw her ads said they made them more likely to vote for her.

Jones’ numbers:

— 57 percent of Salt Lakers said they had seen one of Becker’s TV ads; 41 percent said they had not.

— Of those who saw the ads, 20 percent said the ads made them more likely to vote for the mayor; 29 percent said they made them LESS likely to vote for him; and half said the ads had no effect on their mayoral preference.

— 52 percent said they had seen one of Biskupski’s TV ads; 47 percent said they had not.

— Of those who saw her ads, 20 percent said they made them more likely to vote for her, 22 percent said the ad made them LESS likely to vote for her and 56 percent said the ad made no difference in who they would vote for mayor.

Now, it must be said that if you are a strong Biskupski supporter, and you see a Becker ad, then you are likely to tell a pollster that viewing the ad actually made you less likely to vote for Becker – since you already favor his opponent and don’t like seeing his ad on TV, where it could harm your favorite.

Same thing for a Becker supporter seeing a Biskupski TV ad.

For example, while this is a nonpartisan election, all know that both Becker and Biskupski are Democrats, although Becker is the more moderate of the two.

So, it follows that city Republicans are more likely to support Becker.

And when asked if the Becker TV ads made them more or less likely to support the mayor, 29 percent of the Republicans said more likely, 22 percent of the Republicans said the ads made them less likely to vote for him, and 47 percent said the ads made no difference to them.

When Democrats were asked about the Becker TV ads, only 16 percent said they made them more likely to vote for the mayor (since they are less included to support him anyway), 34 percent said the ads made them LESS likely to vote for him and 51 percent said the ads made no difference to them.

You find the same inclinations on the Biskupski TV ads: Only 11 percent of Republicans said they are more inclined to vote for her after seeing her ad, 27 percent said they are LESS likely to support her and 58 percent of Republicans said the Biskupski ads made no difference to them.

Democrats who saw the Biskupski ads swing the other way, 21 percent are more likely to vote for her after seeing them, 19 percent are less likely to support her, and 58 percent of Democrats said the Biskupski ads made no difference to them.

Since ad men are pretty good at their work, they are not going to put out a campaign ad that – viewed by a neutral or undecided voter – would make that person actually turn AGAINST their candidate.

And both Becker’s and Biskupski’s TV ads are positive in nature – not a negative attack on their opponent. (Although Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdamscomments on Biskupski in a Becker ad could be close to an exception.)

You can view both candidates’ TV ads by going to YouTube, search by the candidates’ names and their ads will come up.

In a daily tracking format, Jones polled 330 registered Salt Lake likely voters on Oct. 19, 20, 21; the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.38 percent.