Primary season makes cents

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I'm a political junkie.

Mostly, I'm an armchair quarterback. I've only been to one political rally. I've never stuffed envelopes for a candidate. And I'm embarrassed to admit it, but the most I've donated to a campaign has been something like $10. But when it comes to reading political articles and watching the debates, I get pretty fascinated. It doesn't matter whether it's the Democrats or Republicans, I've grown to like something about all of them, and so if there's a debate, I tend to have the television on. If I'm bored, I find myself visiting web sites like Politico.com and RealClearPolitics. Meet the Press? Since that means meeting the politicians, but of course.

I know I'm not alone, and what didn't occur to me until today is when We The People follow politics, we're not just doing our civic duty by being informed on the issues, we're actually helping the economy. Who needs an economic stimulus plan, when we're in the midst of the primary season? This is election isn't just about change -- it's about making change -- the kind that involves pennies, nickels and dimes.

In my email box today, a press release came, which got me thinking about all of this. It had the headline, "New Political Web Site Makes Uncertainty Exciting," and it went onto promote http://politics.ohio.com. In other words, the political sites are perfectly happy that we still don't know who the political nominees are. Meanwhile,CNN has seen its ratings jump nearly 40%, according to this article in Louisville's Courier-Journal, and just a couple nights ago, when Super Tuesday was all in the news, my brother, another political junkie, planted himself in front of the TV -- and ordered a pizza. When my wife went to the grocery store earlier in the day, I asked her to buy some special snacks, since I figured I'd also be glued to the set. I know Super Tuesday wasn't exactly the Super Bowl, but I doubt we were alone in this.

It's good news for my caloric intake that the political season will calm down after November, but in the meantime, if you're weary of all of the primaries -- the next ones are Saturday, Sunday and Monday -- just be glad that a lot of people are interested. It won't save people from losing jobs or having them outsourced, but it can't hurt. Advertisers are ponying up money to political web sites and news channels, off-setting some of the damage the writers strike has done to Hollywood's economy. Pizzas are being ordered. Campaigns are forced to continue spending money across the country, boosting revenues in hotels, restaurants and whoever makes those political signs that volunteers are always sticking in people's yards. And if you still want it to all go away, and are considering buying ear plugs and a sleep mask -- well, hey, you'll be doing your part for the economy, too.

Geoff Williams is a business freelance journalist, primarily for Entrepreneur magazine, and is the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale, 2007).
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