Let’s Play Amateur Pundit With the Mayoral Election TV Advertising

We want to know: Why did the candidates advertise where they did?

The Friday before the Boston mayoral election, John Connolly’s campaign advertised on Blue Bloods, a FOX network show co-starring Donnie Wahlberg. So did Democrats For Education Reform (DFER), an outside PAC supporting Connolly. Marty Walsh’s campaign did not; neither did American Working Families (AWF), the PAC supporting Walsh.

Clearly, the pro-Connolly forces were trying to steal away some of the working-class Dorchester voters who identify with Donnie Wahlberg.

Well, probably not, but that’s exactly the kind of fun amateur punditry I invite you to do with the information I have compiled below, showing who advertised on what shows during the final week of the campaign. The information is pulled from FCC reports (for the four major broadcast stations, which must report political ad buys), and as of yesterday, I believe the records are pretty much complete for the week of Tuesday, October 29, through Monday, November 4—leading up to the November 5 election.

Below, I did not include news programs and morning news/talk because all the candidates advertise on as many of those as they can. I also left out sports programming, including big-money purchases during the Wednesday night World Series game. (The other SuperPAC that advertised for Walsh, One Boston, advertised exclusively on those categories, and so is not in my chart.)

For daytime and late-night shows, a ‘Y’ means the committee placed at least one ad on that show during the week. The big expense comes with the primetime buys, where a single ad placement costs between $6,000 and $14,000 at the political rate.

You’ll notice that no ads were placed on Wednesday night opposite the World Series. (Actually, DFER did place ads for Criminal Minds and Law & Order: SVU, but cancelled them.)

So come on—give me your best two-bit amateur punditry. Did the Connolly and Walsh campaigns skip Queen Latifah because they thought it was a show about a real queen? Did American Working Families think Jeopardy was for elitist Harvard lawyers? Was it self-fulfilling for Walsh to choose a show titled Amazing Race—while Connolly went with Biggest Loser? Is it a subtle dig at bachelor Marty for Connolly and DFER to pick The Good Wife? Doesn’t it just figure that the SuperPACs gravitated to the game show Millionaire?

Leave your best analysis and observations in the comments. And a special shout-out to whoever comes up with the best explanation for the only three shows that all four advertised on: Ellen, Family Feud, and Wheel of Fortune.


  Am Work Fam Connolly DFER Walsh
Queen Latifah Y Y
Price Is Right Y Y
Soap rotation Y
Dr. Phil Y Y Y
Judge Judy Y Y
Wheel of Fortune Y Y Y Y
Jeopardy Y Y Y
Letterman Y Y
NCIS (Tues) Y Y
NCIS LA (Tues) Y
Mike&Molly/Mom (Th) Y
Undercover Boss (F) Y Y
Hawaii 5-0 (Fri) Y
Blue Bloods (Fri) Y Y
Crime Time (Sat) Y
60 Minutes (Sun) Y Y
Amazing Race (Sun) Y Y
Good Wife (Sun) Y Y
Mentalist (Sun) Y
Steve Harvey Y Y Y
The View Y Y Y
Katie Couric Y Y
Ellen Y Y Y Y
Millionaire Y Y
The Chew Y
General Hospital Y
Inside Edition Y Y Y
Kimmel Y Y
Once Upon/W (Th) Y
Grey’s Anatomy (Th) Y
Scandal (Th) Y Y
Shark Tank (Fri) Y Y
20/20 (Fri) Y Y
Funniest HV (Sun) Y
Once Upon (Sun) Y
Revenge (Sun) Y Y
Betrayal (Sun) Y
Danc W/Stars (Mon) Y Y Y
Castle (Mon) Y Y
Bethenny Frankel Y
Wendy Williams Y Y
Dr. Oz Y
J Alex/Divorce Ct Y
TMZ Live Y
X Factor (Tues) Y
X Factor (Th) Y
Glee (Th) Y
Bones (Mon) Y Y
Sleepy Hollow (Mon) Y Y
Days Of Our Lives Y Y Y
Family Feud Y Y Y Y
Access Hollywood Y Y Y
Extra Y Y
Late Night w/Fallon Y
Biggest Loser (Tues) Y Y
The Voice (Tues) Y
Parenthood (Th) Y
Saturday Night Live Y Y
The Voice (Mon) Y Y
Blacklist (Mon) Y