Minnesota Has One of This Week’s Top 10 Ad Markets

[See below for better context]

Try to tell me Minnesota isn’t in play when in a week with more than $58 million being spent on political ads, a Minnesota market cracks the top 10 in spending and no one mentions that?

Full credit to our commenter Adam for helping us with mid-western geography that inspired this post.

Minnesota has been showing up a lot on this blog that is restricted to only the Battlegrounds. But in the weekly top 10 ad buys post below, MSNBC mislabeled the following market as an Iowa market: “Rochester-Mason City-Austin (Iowa).” This market is three cities on the Minnesota/Iowa border.  According to the broadcasting index, there are 6 major stations in this market and 4 are in Minnesota (ABC, NBC, FOX and PBS) and 2 are in Iowa (CBS and PBS):

3 KIMT CBS ID: “News Channel 3”
City: Mason City, IA
Owner: Media General
Web Site: http://www.kimt.com/
Station Info: Digital Full-Power
KAAL ABC City: Austin, MN
Web Site: http://www.kaaltv.com/
Station Info: Digital Full-Power
KTTC NBC City: Rochester, MN
Owner: Quincy Newspapers
Web Site: http://www.kttc.com/
Station Info: Digital Full-Power
KSMQ PBS City: Austin, MN
Owner: Southern Minnesota Quality Broadcasting
Web Site: http://www.ksmq.org/
Station Info: Digital Educational Full-Power
City: Mason City, IA
Owner: Iowa Public Broadcasting
Web Site: http://www.iptv.org/
Station Info: Digital Educational Full-Power
City: Rochester, MN
Owner: Sagamorehill
Web Site: http://www.fox47kxlt.com/
Station Info: Digital Full-Power

Thanks to commenter Kevin we have the broadcast map these stations reach which you see stretches well into Iowa but only reaches a sparsely populated area.

When we look at the populations of the three cities (161,780 total), as eagle-eyed commenter Adam points out, this is a “Minnesota ad that happens to reach Iowa.”

  • Rochester, Minnesota, Minnesota’s third-largest city and the largest city: Population: 107,890 — 67% of the market
  • Austin, Minnesota, Population: 24,718 — 15% of the market
  • Mason City, Iowa, Population: 29,172 — 18% of the market

This means 82% of the population is in Minnesota yet MSNBC labeled this “Iowa”?  Come on. This is a huge piece of data completely misreported by MSNBC.  Chuck Todd broke the radio ad buys in Minnesota last night so I don’t think this is him but somebody went to decent lengths to mis-label what is obviously a Minnesota market that is also BIG NEWS. My excitement got the best of me. I trust my source below on this but I think it’s bigger news than currently being reported.

Addendum: An argument showed up in the comments section saying this is old news that Karl Rove has pointed out for months that this is part of the Obama campaign’s strategy to reach the rural Iowa vote (which explains the MSNBC labeling). I’m not buying that. Saturating Minnesota to reach an audience that is only 18% Iowa? They could probably spend less money and open up 10 Field Offices in Mason City, Iowa if that vote was so precious. One or two ad buys I could believe, but cracking the top 10 ad markets in a week with the highest ad buys this election? This screams of a Minnesota ad buy because something’s going on in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Addendum II: Counter-point from a smart media watcher who knows this market:

The placement in Rochester-Mason City is common for an Iowa buy. You are right that most of the population in the district is in Minnesota, but I know we are generally willing to buy broadcast in markets if 10% hits the targeted state.  Doesn’t mean that there isn’t positive movement going on in Minnesota, but its not unprecedented. Also, the American Future Fund has been pretty much alone in placing presidential ads in Minnesota.  They have placed in the Twin Cities and Duluth, which is more indicative of a real target.  If it has tightened, they deserve some credit.


  1. MikeN
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink | Reply

    I disagree with this analysis. Karl Rove has mentioned on air many times that the Obama campaign is spending heavily in Rochester, Minnesota, more than they are spending in North Carolina, just to reach a few rural counties in Iowa. This was months ago.

    • William Jefferson Jr.
      Posted October 18, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink | Reply

      Rove is a spokesperson for the Obama campaign?

    • Posted October 18, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink | Reply

      Saturating Minnesota to reach an audience that is only 18% Iowa??? I’m not buying that. They could probably spend less money and open up 10 Field Offices in Mason City, Iowa if that vote was so precious.

      • Vadim
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        Is Obama spending any other money on TV in the other parts of the state that are not close to Iowa? I know you blogged that he is buying radio ad time.

    • Kevin
      Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Here are the broadcast signal maps for the Rochester, Minnesota tv market.


      If Obama is doing more ad buys throughout Minnesota, then they’re really worried about the state. If they’re doing ad buys in Omaha, as well as Rochester Minnesota, then they’re trying to scrape up as much air time in Iowa as they possibly can, indicating, they’re really worried about Iowa.

      Either way, this is not a good sign for the Obama campaign.

    • MikeN
      Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

      To be clear, this was happening on the Bret Baier appearances with Joe Trippi as well as other venues. He emphasized that they were spending more in Rochester than in any North Carolina market, in support of the fact that they were spending more per capita in Iowa than any other state. If Obama were spending in Minnesota, wouldn’t he focus on more than just Rochester? St Paul would give him exposure in Wisconsin as well.

  2. Pete
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink | Reply

    Overall the trend of the incumbent pouring precious funds into a blue state that should be safe (MN) to shore up one that he should have locked down (IA) speaks to the shakiness of the incumbent’s likelihood of success.

  3. Posted October 18, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink | Reply

    Rochester is not far from La Crosse, Wisonson as well, there could be some bleed there as well.

    • MikeN
      Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

      You can hit Wisconsin and Iowa with one market?

  4. Ron
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink | Reply

    In the past fielding presidential candidates from the South or West deflated GOP appeal in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. Neither George W. nor McCain were good cultural fits for those regions. Whereas the South put up strong resistance to Romney during the primary season, his selection is now paying dividends. Many more battleground states are in play at this point. Romney-Ryan is a good fit, especially in places like WI and PA.

  5. No Tribe
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    It’s on the WaPost map:

    They have to buy outside the states. But like buying in other states, it has two purposes…. just in case.

    There are a few interesting differences going on. In Wisconsin, between the Dem buys and the Rep buys.

    Florida, where Republicans have spent 1M in Mobile.

    Portland ME, D $3M, R$1M

  6. Adam
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Something everyone needs to understand, Northern and western Iowa is pure farm land. The small towns that up there are few and far between, with populations 1000-2000.. The “rural Iowa” Rove is talking about is in South East and South Central Iowa. Small towns around Des Moines, Cedar Rapids (like Mt Vernon, where Obama was yesterday 30 mins from Cedar Rapids) and the Quad Cities. South East towns like Ft Madison, Keokuk and Ottumwa all fairly close to each other with 10,000-25,000 people.

    • Adam
      Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Actually now that I think abuot it, the Cedar Rapids stations cover basically everything east of and including Mason City from Northern to Southern boarder. If they want to reach small town Iowa, that’s the way to go. Nobody can convince me this ad buy isn’t purely to reach Minnisota.

      • MikeN
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know about this ad buy, buy Rove was talking about different ad buys in Rochester, Minnesota, months ago, getting more money than any market in North Carolina. Do you think those were also intended to hit Minnesota, or is there something different about this ad buy?

        By the way, it is not ridiculous for Obama to have been spending in Minnesota all along, as it was more Republican than Wisconsin, and was close to the 270th electoral vote for McCain, with just Colorado, New Hampshire, and Iowa between it and Virginia.

      • Adam
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        My main comment about it, is that part of Iowa is a barren wasteland of corn. There are far better markets that will affect most of this area. The 4 Cedar Rapids stations viewership reaches all the counties east of Mason City, while at the same time catching Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and a majority of the small towns south of Interstate 80. BTW: Minnisota’s history… 2008: Obama +10.3, 2004: Kerry +3.5

  7. No Tribe
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Probably the worst, most expensive, placement to have to buy is the DC market to reach NoVA.

    • No Tribe
      Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

      $24M by Dems, $29M by Reps, mostly reaching DC and MD.

  8. Porchlight
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Rochester, MN is the home of the Mayo Clinic. Can’t help but wonder if the MN medical industry might be more than usually sympathetic toward the Republican this year.

  9. wholefoodsrepublican
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    St Jude is a medical device company in ST Paul, MD. medical devices will get hit hard by Obamacare taxes

  10. MikeN
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Take a look at the 3 minute mark for an example.

    • Posted October 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I think that is a great video. To be clear MikeN, I didn’t mean to imply what you were saying was untrue. That’s why I wrote I cold believe an ad buy or two in this market is based solely to reach Iowa. What I disagree with is such a large ad buy putting this market in the top 10 nationally is based on the push for such a small sliver of Iowa. I am completely convinced an ad buy of this size is to reach Minnesota specifically.

      • MikeN
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        I understood what you said. I hadn’t paid attention previously and just assumed Minnesota was in play. When you said Rochester, I remembered it. Note that Karl Rove says this is a big buy in Rochester as well, unless North Carolina was very small at the time. The key is have we seen other parts of Minnesota, or at least Minn+Wisc?

  11. TeaPartyPaul
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Cnn reporting an up in Obamas ad buy by 6 million?


    FL: $1,320,754
    NV: $253,050
    WI: $770,194
    OH: $1,654,398
    NH: $722,945
    VA: $199,535
    NC: $1,320,085

    Surprising here in an extra 1.3 in NC

  12. EpiphoneKnight
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    There’s no way O wins here by more than 5%. He’ll probably win, but it will be VERY tight. (MN)

  13. valleyforge
    Posted October 19, 2012 at 1:58 am | Permalink | Reply

    If Obama wanted to shore up Minnesota he’d be running ads in Minneapolis-St. Paul or the NW triangle to get out the unions and core Dem constituencies. Southern tier is conservative and sparsely populated. I think MInnesota is a sleeper that both campaigns are watching but it’s nowhere near a tipping point state so it gets no action unless Romney is way up.

    • Posted October 19, 2012 at 2:06 am | Permalink | Reply

      Strategically the problem for Obama in Minnesota is he is in a double bind. If he loses Minnesota he’ll likely have lost the election. But if he stumps there today, it will send a tremor through the entire campaign that he’s in such desperate shape to save what was thought to be a safe blue state. He’s damned if he does and he’s damned if he doesn’t.

One Trackback

  1. […] received a lot of push-back over my conclusion regarding Minnesota’s competitiveness based on Rochester, Minnesota being a top 10 ad market this week. Upon closer inspection, however, the evidence keeps piling up that the Land of 10,000 Lakes should […]

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