With the Iowa Caucus set for Jan 3, the state has seen more than its fair share of political ads. And IA’s dominant cable operator Mediacom loves every bit of stumping. The MSO’s political advertising in IA for the Caucus is at least 4 times greater than what it saw in ’03/04, according to Sonja Farrand, svp, OnMedia, Mediacom’s ad sales division. It’s shaping up to be a good election year for cable, with PQ Media projecting that cable political spending will skyrocket 95.3% from ’04 to $200mln in ’08. That’s still nowhere near top political advertising medium broadcast, which PQ projects to rise 59% to $2.3bln, but cable is one of the fastest growing political ad mediums, according to PQ. But really, cable is the most significant because the mediums leading it in growth (Internet and mobile) take in less revenue. Cable’s growth has really occurred over the last 3 election cycles, with the strength of the interconnect playing a big role, PQ Media vp, research Leo Kivijarv said. Also helping is cable’s ability to reach niche markets and close races. “That really came to fruition in ’06. When the ad inventory on broadcast becomes very tight in those markets with 2 or more contentious races… cable is the 1st alternative,” Kivijarv said. Mediacom started seeing its first political ad spends in Apr when NM Gov Bill Richardson (D) began running spots. The MSO’s political ad buys in IA really ramped up in June, with Democratic hopeful Barack Obama leading spending thus far, followed by Hillary Clinton (D), Farrand said. As for pitching cable over broadcast, Farrand and her team note the more direct targeting of voters. “Previously, it was just easier for agencies to buy broadcast. We’re working extremely hard to make sure it’s just as easy to buy cable as it is broadcast,” she said. Farrand credits spot cable firm NCC for helping improve that. Until recently, there was no single source available in TV to direct political advertisers to a specific spot cable schedule. Cable operator-owned NCC, which represents virtually every market in the country, stepped in and created “Political Smart Buy” to help guide planning and buying. On Jan 8, interest turns to NH’s primary. Comcast Spotlight projects 585% growth for ’07 vs ’03 in NH presidential primary money (it declined to provide dollar amounts). Comcast said it now has a 25+ share for the TV market there for the category vs a single-digit share in ’03. Time Warner Cable opted not to provide any projections but did offer some color. Clinton, Obama, Mitt Romney (R) and John Edwards (D) have been the most active in NH. Five other candidates—John McCain (R), Rudy Giuliani (R), Richardson, Tom Tancredo (R) and Duncan Hunter (R)—have advertised off and on with the MSO since Sept.