Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and Republican challenger Knute Buehler, locked in the most expensive gubernatorial race in Oregon history, are pouring most of their money into a form of campaigning that hasn’t changed much in decades: 30-second TV ads.

Buehler, a state representative from Bend, has spent more than $8.3 million on broadcast and cable advertising while Brown has spent more than $7.1 million, according to campaign disclosure reports.

Travis Ridout.
Travis Ridout

“If you want to send a message quickly to a lot of people, then TV is still the best way to do it,” said Travis Ridout, a political science professor at Washington State University who is a co-director of the Wesleyan group.

Although an increasing amount of political advertising is being directed toward the internet, traditional TV still gets the lion’s share of political spending.

Kantar Media, a firm that works with Wesleyan to track advertising, projects that campaigns across the country will spend more than $3.2 billion on broadcast and cable by the time people are done voting on Nov. 6. In contrast, digital spending will total about $600 million in this campaign.

Ridout and other experts say politicians are attracted to broadcast and cable for a number of reasons. For one, older voters are still more apt to stick to traditional TV viewing—and they are also the people most likely to vote.

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