Inside Public Integrity

Published — September 26, 2014 Updated — September 27, 2014 at 1:42 pm ET

12 things to know about who’s trying to influence your vote in 2014


We’re a little over a month away from the 2014 midterm elections, and in addition to control of the U.S. Senate there are more than 6,300 state-level races around the country in play.

And if you watch TV you’ve seen an unbelievable number of political ads asking for your vote. Do you know who is paying for those ads, and why?

The Center for Public Integrity is trying answer this question, by investigating who is trying to influence the 2014 elections through television advertising. We created two apps to track spending on political advertising throughout the U.S. – and reveal the source behind the dollars spent to influence your vote.

Here’s what we’ve found about who’s trying to influence your vote:

  • More money is being thrown into state races than Senate ones so far this election.
  • More than $280 million has been spent so far nationwide on television ads promoting and attacking candidates running for state political offices in 2014, a third less than at a comparable point in 2010.
  • Political television ads trying to influence state-level races in the 2014 elections have run more than 540,000 times in 44 states starting in June 2013, according to the analysis of Kantar Media/CMAG data, sucking up the equivalent of 195 days of airtime if run continuously.
  • The states where most has been spent buying political TV ads so far:
    1. Pennsylvania: $37 million
    2. Texas: $36.8 million
    3. Florida: $33.7 million
    4. Illinois: $26.4 million
    5. New York: $14.5 million
  • Amounts spent per voter on political TV ads, the top 5 states:
    1. Rhode Island: $7.77
    2. Pennsylvania: $3.99
    3. Maryland: $3.48
    4. Nebraska: $3.12
    5. Illinois: $2.94
  • More than 90 independent groups have spent $55 million to shape state-level races in 30 states, accounting for roughly 19 percent of state-level political ad dollars this cycle. In 2010, such groups spent $50 million and made up only 12 percent of spending.
  • The top spending independent groups in this election cycle are:
    1. The Republican Governors Association ($11.4 million) – active in 13 states
    2. Pro-Florida Gov. Rick Scott group, Let’s Get to Work, ($10.8 million)
    3. Democratic Governors Association ($5.1 million) – active in Michigan, Arkansas, Connecticut, South Carolina
    4. The union-backed Illinois Freedom Political Action Committee ($4.9 million)
    5. Billionaire Tom Steyer-backed NextGen Climate Action Committee ($2.3 million) – active in Florida and Pennsylvania
  • The most expensive races are all for governor, in these states:
    1. Pennsylvania: $35.5 million
    2. Florida: $31.8 million
    3. Illinois: $26 million
    4. New York: $13.2 million
    5. Maryland: $12.1 million
  • The $2.1 million race for Oklahoma education superintendent is the 25th priciest nationwide for television, surpassing the amount spent to elect governors in at least 14 states.
  • Spending on state supreme court races has outstripped 2010 by a 3-1 ratio, with more than $3.1 million spent to air ads in six states.
  • There are more incumbent governors and fewer legislative chambers up for grabs this year than in 2010. That appears to have led to a lower voter turnout rate this year than in 2010 in at least 28 states, according to numbers from state election officials across the country.
  • The bulk of political spending is almost certainly still to come. In 2010, 55 percent of the overall spending came in the final two months.
  • In total, 44 states have had at least some ads, while six states have had no ads yet: Delaware, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Utah, Wyoming.

Read more in Inside Public Integrity

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