Was radio advertising the untold secret ingredient in Youngkin's Virginia victory?
New memo spotlights importance of Youngkin’s early investment in radio ads in fueling his come from behind win
FIRST ON FOX: When it comes to political advertising in national or statewide campaigns, radio is often the third wheel in comparison to TV and digital.
But a new research memo shared first with FOX Business on Wednesday suggests that radio ads played an outsized role in arguably the most crucial election of 2021.
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Research published by the Center for Campaign Innovation spotlights that radio ads by Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin – although a smaller investment than TV or digital – played a disproportionate role in helping to boost the candidate to narrow victory in November over former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
The memo by the non-profit group that trains and guides conservative candidates through the digital transformation of politics, notes that Youngkin basically had the radio airwaves to himself until mid-September and argues that made a big difference in a race with national implications that grabbed attention from coast to coast.
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TV has long been the king when it comes to political advertising, with digital growing in importance with each election cycle. But Center for Campaign Innovation director Eric Wilson noted that "Youngkin pressed his advantage early on radio which also boosted his TV and digital advertising."
"Effective campaigns follow the data and our research shows that radio still has a place in campaigns fighting a fragmented media landscape," Wilson, who served as digital director on Sen. Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign and in Virginia on Ed Gillespie's 2014 Senate and 2017 gubernatorial campaigns, highlighted.
Youngkin, a first-time candidate who hailed from the business wing of the GOP, became the first Republican to win a gubernatorial election in a dozen years in Virginia, a one-time battleground but still competitive state. And the race was seen as a key barometer ahead of next year's midterms, when Republicans aim to win back control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, where the Democrats hold razor-thin majorities.
The Center for Campaign Innovation touted that their "research from Virginia provides valuable insights for campaigners heading into the 2022 midterms as they plan their paid media budgets."
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They argued that campaigns should follow an "all of the above" advertising strategy "because the average voter’s attention is so fragmented, no single platform will provide the reach needed to meaningfully move numbers."
And they spotlighted what’s been argued for years in the world of campaign politics, that "while TV’s reach remains high, radio and digital have greater efficiency and ballot movement for those they do reach"
The group pointed to polling that they commissioned in September and at the end of the election. The first survey was conducted when Youngkin had the radio airwaves to himself, and it suggested that Youngkin's "early radio investment was a key component of closing McAuliffe's early lead."
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The survey indicated that voters who recalled seeing Youngkin TV commercials as well as hearing the candidate’s radio spots were 6.84% more likely to vote for Youngkin that those who did not hear the radio ads. The data noted that digital advertising combined with TV commercials gave Younking a 5.46% boost among voters.