As Hurricane Matthew hits Category 4 strength and begins its devastation on U.S. soil, the two major party candidates are going to fight to stay in the news. As such, Hillary Clinton bought airtime on the Weather Channel in certain Florida markets. Namely, the ones that are going to be most affected by the storm.
The new Clinton ads — a small sliver of a larger cable purchase in multiple swing states, which includes just-placed ads during postseason baseball games — appear to be an attempt to salvage some share of the conversation in the run-up to Sunday’s second presidential debate. The campaign was forced by the storm Wednesday to cancel a planned Florida trip by President Barack Obama, and they’re likely to lose multiple news cycles as residents grapple with storm recovery efforts in Florida, North Carolina and neighboring states that are less competitive electorally.
“Over the past few days, our campaign made millions of dollars of adjustments and refinements to our TV buys on dozens of different cable stations in markets all across the battleground states,” said Clinton campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson. “The Weather Channel represented less than one percent of that spending. These shifts were part of our regular updates to maximize efficiency, effectiveness and reach of our ad buy.”
Look, there’s probably some tactical advantages to this, seeing as how the Weather Channel gets huge viewership during big storms and disasters like this. Given that some models show Matthew appears to be ready to make a loop and come around for a second go, that means a lot of nastiness for Florida from the weather.
The question becomes whether or not the residents of storm-ravaged Florida really want their information to be laced with tinges of politics from a political season even nastier than what they’ve already gone through. I would guess that the presidential election is the last thing on their minds.
As Politico points out, these markets are in key strongholds that the Democrats desperately have to turn out votes from. If the Clinton campaign overplays this, it means pissing off people who want comfort during a natural disaster and not an unfeeling opportunist seeking attention from wherever she can get it.
It’s risky, and I can’t imagine it working as well as they hope.