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State of the Screens

The Battle for Iowa

By December 22, 2023No Comments

Six big questions re: The Road to The White House:
1) When does voting start?
2) Why is everyone focused on Iowa?
3) Who is the target audience?
4) Which markets are the focus?
5) How many targeted voters are reached with linear TV ads?
6) Why is reaching this audience so difficult?

Setting the table: 11 Billion Reasons to Care About Political Video Ads

Big question #1: When does voting start?

Quick answer: The Iowa Caucus will kick off the 2024 Election for Republicans on January 15th @ 7:00 pm CST.

Big question #2: Why is everyone focused on Iowa?

Quick answer: Despite accounting for less than 2% of total delegates (40 / 2,429), Iowa is outsized in choosing each party’s nominee.  Not everyone gets a ticket out of Iowa.

Big question #3: Who is the target audience?

Quick answer:  Registered Republicans (590K) who will show up on a cold night in January.

Bottom line #1: In 2016, 187K Republicans (30%) turned out on caucus night.  Senator Cruz won with 52K votes (28% of total).

Bottom line #2: A campaign needs ≈ 50K – 80K votes to win this year.


Big question #4: Which markets are the focus?

Quick answer: GOP campaigns are purchasing broadcast TV ads in 5 of the 9 media markets that reach Iowa voters.  Those 5 media markets reach 92% of Iowa Republicans, leaving 8% who can only be reached through other means (streaming, mobile/desktop video, national cable, etc.).

Share of Iowa GOP primary voters by media market:
1) Des Moines – 34%
2) Cedar Rapids – 23%
3) Sioux City, IA – 15%
4) Davenport – 10%
5) Omaha – 9%
6) Other 4 markets – 8%

Big question #5: How many targeted voters are reached with linear TV ads?

Quick answer: ≈ 40%

Cumulative reach in November to Iowa Republicans:
1) Team Desantis – 40%
2) Team Haley – 33%
3) Team Trump – 32%
4) Team Ramaswamy – 32%


Big question #6: Why is reaching this audience so difficult?

Quick answer: The same media consumption trends wrecking Hollywood’s business model are playing out in local politics.  We estimate that 63% of Iowa Republicans are reachable (every week) with linear TV ads.  Combine this with the fact that 8% of the target audience receives no broadcast TV ads (see above).

Reachability for Iowa Republicans:
1) 17% are not reachable with TV ads
2) 83% are reachable with TV ads
3) 63% are reachable with linear TV ads
4) 53% are reachable with streaming TV ads
5) 32% are reachable through both linear TV and streaming
6) 30% are reachable through linear TV only
7) 20% are reachable through streaming TV only


Michael Beach

Michael Beach is the Chief Executive Officer of Cross Screen Media, a media analytics and software company that enables marketers to plan, activate, and measure CTV and linear TV at the local level. Michael is also the founder and editor of State of the Screens, a weekly newsletter focused on video advertising that is a must-read for thought leaders in the advertising industry. He has appeared in such publications as PBS Frontline, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Axios, CNBC and Bloomberg, and on NPR’s Planet Money podcast.