A new study confirms what anyone watching television in Kansas recently probably knows: political ads in the hotly contested race between Republican incumbent Gov. Sam Brownback and Democratic challenger Paul Davis are flooding the airwaves.
Spending by campaigns and political groups is about seven times more this election than in 2010, when Republicans easily swept all statewide offices in Kansas, according to a report released Wednesday.
The non-partisan Center for Public Integrity estimated that $2.2 million has been spent on television ads for statewide offices – or about $1.11 per eligible Kansas voter – so far this election cycle. The center counted a total of 8,967 ads, many of them repeats of the same ad. The governor’s race alone has consumed $2.1 million of that spending, with the remainder going to advertising in the insurance commissioner’s race and a state legislator’s race.
Money used to run television ads this election already far outstrips the $314,057 spent on television advertising during the 2010 elections, when Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and his party won every statewide office.
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Brownback is facing a competitive race for re-election amid concern among some voters that tax cuts he championed are undermining the state’s financial standing.
The Center for Public Integrity reviewed data about political advertising on national cable and broadcast television in all of the country’s 210 media markets. The organization used research from Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks political advertising and offers a widely accepted estimate of the money spent to air each spot.
Its research project covered political television advertising that ran starting Jan. 1, 2013, geared toward the 2014 elections. Its newly released report tallies ads that have aired as of Sept. 8 of this year, and does not include the next two months when advertising is typically the heaviest as election nears. Its website will be updated weekly with new ad figures until the Nov. 4 election.
These figures only represent part of the money spend on political advertising. They do not include the money spent on ads on radio, online and direct mail, as well as television ads on local cable systems or the cost of producing the messages. That means the total cost of spending on political ads can be significantly higher.
Topping the spending by far in Kansas is the Alliance for Freedom, a Washington-area group with ties to veteran Republican operatives. It has run 2,278 television ads supporting Brownback at an estimated cost of $829,800. Coming in second was the Republican Governors Association, which spent an estimated $394,200 for advertising to run 1,766 ads targeting his Democratic opponent, Paul Davis, the report shows.
Trailing third is the Kansas Values Institute, which spent an estimated $306,200 on 1,604 negative ads against Brownback. The pro-Democrat group is heavily backed by the Kansas affiliate of the National Education Association, a teachers’ union.
Brownback spent an estimated $306,200 and a political nonprofit closely tied to him, Roadmap Solutions Inc., spent $86,900. Davis spent an estimated $86,600 in television advertising. Brownback’s GOP primary challenger, Jennifer Winn, spent about $1,800 to run television ads.
The Center for Public Integrity’s tally includes “issue ads” that mention a candidate, but don’t explicitly call for that candidate’s election or defeat.
In Kansas, that created a bit of an anomaly because the center counted the $68,400 in television advertising spent by Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit that is part of the political network funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who support conservative Republican candidates.
But since their negative ads about the renewable energy portfolio standard briefly mentioned Brownback in urging him to veto it, the center listed that ad as spending that had targeted him.