US Senate

December 17th, 2013

Mark Jacobs Launches First TV Ad of U.S. Senate Campaign

Apparently Mark Jacobs is pretty serious about running for the U.S. Senate.  Since officially entering the race for the Republican nomination on November 19th, Jacobs has traveled the state, reached out to potential voters with a 60-second radio ad, and sent direct mail to Republicans across the state.  Jacobs added another method of reaching voters today when he ran his first TV ad across the state.

Politico was the first to report that the Jacobs campaign was going on the air with a TV ad.  The campaign has purchased network TV time in the Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Sioux City markets.  It has also purchased cable TV time on systems in Davenport, Omaha, Rochester, and Ottumwa.  The sixty-second ad will run from December 17th to the 23rd.  The Jacobs campaign will spend $88,000 on TV during its initial week on the air.  The campaign will spend another $49,000 the following week airing a thirty-second version of the commercial in the same markets.

In total, the Jacobs campaign will spend nearly $140,000 between now and January 4th.  While the ad buy isn’t necessary large, it is significant.

The $140,000 Jacobs is spending on TV alone is more than Matt Whitaker, Sam Clovis, and David Young raised from August through October of this year.  Joni Ernst raised a respectable $252,000 in her first fundraising quarter, but between radio, mail, and now TV, it is likely that the Jacobs campaign has spent more this quarter on voter outreach than Ernst raised in the first three months of the campaign.

Obviously, Jacobs is able to spend big money on introducing himself to Republican voters across the state because his campaign doesn’t rely solely on campaign contributions like the others.  As I’ve written before, Jacobs’ personal wealth allows him to run a different campaign out of the gate, but his willingness to spend money early is problematic for his Republican competitors.

While the other candidates are busy trying to raise enough money to do a little fundraising mail, hire staff, open an office, and hopefully bank some money so that they can run TV ads in the spring, the Jacobs campaign is doing all of those things simultaneously, and he’s not been an official candidate for an entire month yet.

Jacobs media and mail blitz also hurts his Republican opponents because it allows him to define who he is to the voters before his opponents can say a bad word about him.  If Jacobs were running against a well known elected official, things may be different, but he’s running against a former U.S. Senate staffer, a state senator from a rural part of Iowa, an economics professor, and former U.S. District Attorney.

As far at the primary electorate goes, nobody knows who any of the candidates are.  So when a candidate starts dropping mail in your mailbox, running ads on the radio, and advertising on TV, it matters.  A poll of the Republican U.S. Senate field conducted in late November showed that over 70 percent of those polled either had never heard of, or don’t know enough about the Republican candidates to have an opinion of them.  Ernst was the best known out of the bunch, but still 71 percent of respondents didn’t know her.  Jacobs was the least known in the poll, with 78 percent of the people not knowing who he was.

The difference is that Jacobs, who entered the race just days before the poll was in the field, is doing a lot to become better known across the state.  His competition on the other hand, has to rely on local Republican meetings and gatherings to get better known.  Undoubtedly, they all would love to be able to run radio and TV ads, but the economics of each of their campaigns preclude them from doing so at this time.

There is more to campaigns than spending money, but in a race filled with unknown statewide candidates, Jacobs’ ability to go out and introduce himself to Iowans on his own terms is a huge advantage.  Jacobs is running an entirely different campaign than his opponents, and it’s likely to stay that way for a while unless Clovis, Ernst, Whitaker or Young can muster the financial resources to go toe-to-toe with him.

TV Version

Longer Version

The ad includes audio and scenes from Jacobs’ announcement in Des Moines last month.

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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