State Elections

Published — October 9, 2014

Money talks: Key dollar amounts behind the TV ad wars in state elections

Five things you need to know about the television ad wars surrounding state elections


With roughly a month to go before Election Day, roughly $430 million has been spent airing television ads to influence the elections for state offices. While this is just a midterm year for federal elections, it’s a pivotal year on the state level with more than 6,300 seats at stake, including 36 governorships, 30 attorneys general, and legislative seats in 46 states. Here are some facts you should know about who is trying to shape the races.

  • An estimated $712 million has been spent airing television ads about the elections for U.S. Senate and state-level offices combined, according to preliminary data through Oct. 6 from Kantar Media/CMAG. But more money has been spent airing ads in governors’ races than in U.S. Senate races — $332.6 million on gubernatorial hopefuls compared with $282.6 million on Senate races.
  • More money has been spent airing ads in the governors’ races in Florida ($54.9 million), Illinois ($44 million) and Pennsylvania ($41.3 million) than on any U.S. Senate race. North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race clocks in with an estimated $39.8 million spent on ads.
  • If you exclude the top-of-the-ticket battles for U.S. Senate and governor, the races for Texas’ lieutenant governor and attorney general are the most expensive state-level elections, costing an estimated $13 million and $10.5 million respectively.
  • The Republican Party of Florida has spent more to air its TV ads than any candidate, party or political group for state-level elections nationwide with $26 million in ads as of Oct. 6. Along with the Florida Democratic Party, the Sunshine State’s two major parties have spent $43.6 million. That’s more than has been spent on ads to influence state elections in all but four states.
  • At least 13 out of about 200 outside groups airing ads this election cycle have been active in both state-level and U.S. Senate races. The top three are Americans for Prosperity ($9.4 million), NextGen Climate Action ($8.5 million) and the National Rifle Association ($3.4 million).

Want to know more? Explore our findings with our ad trackers for state-level offices and the U.S. Senate.

Source: Center for Public Integrity analysis of preliminary data through Oct. 6 from Kantar Media/CMAG

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