In this fiercely-contested presidential election, what does California have in common with key swing states like Ohio, Florida, and Wisconsin?
Virtually nothing. Except that Sacramento TV viewers are being bombarded with campaign commercials in a spending war that is among the most expensive in the nation. More expensive, in fact, than what's being spent in key swing state cities like Cincinnati, Cleveland, or Norfolk.
That disclosure comes from the Washington D.C.-based Sunlight Foundation, which has begun tracking what political campaigns are spending on TV airwaves. According to their newly-released data, Sacramento--of all places--ranks sixth in the nation among TV markets when it comes to political spending in the past week.
That puts California's capital city well above the spending in TV markets in swing states where President Obama and Mitt Romney are slugging it out. such as Ohio and Florida.
How does that make sense, given that Democrat-dominated California is not in play when it comes to the White House vote?
The answer is that, in California, the vote that really matters next month--on a national level--is the one being cast for Congress.
Northern California voters are being bombarded with TV ads all right, but they all have to do with a handful of closely-contested House seats that could be pivotal in determining who controls the House next year.
Republican Congressman Dan Lungren is facing a tough rematch from Democrat Ami Bera in the 7th Congressional District. In 19th District, Republican incumbent Jeff Denham is also facing a strong challenge from Democrat Jose Hernandez. Democratic House members John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney are also facing strong challengers from Republicans Kim Vann and Ricky Gill.
Newly-drawn boundaries and the question of who will wield power has fueled this spending war, with both national parties funneling millions of dollars into these campaigns.
Thus, the TV ad war, which makes broadcast sales executives smile, but has placed TV viewers themselves under siege.
There'll be no let up until Election Day, with control of the House at stake. That's California's potential swing role.
In the meantime, there is no escape by changing the channel.