The Washington Post

Obama campaign takes over Ohio newspaper (sort of)

Residents of Columbus, Ohio, might be forgiven if they thought their local newspaper had been commandeered Tuesday by President Obama's reelection campaign.

A major portion of the Web site for the Columbus Dispatch was taken over by advertising for Obama, whose campaign is pushing supporters to the polls as voters in the crucial swing state begin casting early ballots. By early evening, Obama for America campaign ads still flanked both sides of the newspaper's landing page, with more ads across the top and bottom and a large display ad that took up much of the remaining screen when expanded.

Scrolling down led the user to a regular Dispatch news story on... the start of early voting.

"BREAKING," the largest display ad read. "You can VOTE NOW IN OHIO." Clicking took users to an Obama campaign page with voting locations.

The sizable online ad purchase underscores the importance of Web strategy to the Obama campaign, which has spent tens of millions of dollars on online ads this year and is ubiquitous on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Republican challenger Mitt Romney has also ratcheted up his presence on the Web and social media in recent weeks, though not to the extent of the Obama campaign.

There were no major Obama ads Tuesday afternoon on the Web sites of two other major Ohio newspapers, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Philip Pikelny, vice president of Dispatch Digital, which oversees the Columbus paper's Web site, said he expected some negative reaction to the ad buy but has heard very little. He said the newspaper would welcome a similar purchase by the Romney campaign. 

"Our policy is and always has been that we're happy to afford the opportunity to either campaign or any candidate locally," Pikelny said. "If the Romney campaign wanted to do the exact same thing, we would do the exact same thing for the same price."
 
Pikelny declined to divulge the cost of the ad, which ran all day.
Deputy Editor, National Politics

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Democrats are debating tonight. Get caught up on the race.
What to expect tonight
Tonight's debate is likely to focus on the concerns of African American and Latino voters. Clinton has focused in recent days on issues like gun control, criminal-sentencing reform, and the state of drinking water in Flint, Mich. Sanders has been aggressively moving to appeal to the same voters, combining his core message about economic unfairness with his own calls to reform the criminal-justice system.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.