WASHINGTON — Politicians seeking state-level offices and their allies have spent more on television ads than their peers fighting for control of the U.S. Senate, a remarkable fact highlighted in a Center for Public Integrity report released Wednesday. Five things to know about spending on state races:
CANDIDATES STILL THE BIG SPENDERS
Despite the prominence of super PACs and labor groups, candidates themselves still are spending the most money on television ads. Of the almost $283 million spent so far, about $205 million of it came from bank accounts under the candidates’ control.
PENNSYLVANIA TOPS TOTAL SPENDING
Pennsylvania’s race for governor accounted for almost all of the $38 million spent on the 56,000 TV ads in that state. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is among the most unpopular and endangered incumbents in the country and he has already spent $9.5 million in a bid to keep his job. His Democratic opponent, cabinet executive Tom Wolf, has spent $11.4 million, including money spent during his primary.
FLORIDA HAS THE MOST ADS
More than 68,300 ads have run in Florida, bringing television stations almost $34 million. The race for governor accounts for all but about $2 million of that price tag. Yet Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, has only spent about $176,000 on ads. The conservative group Let’s Get to Work and the Republican Party of Florida are taking the lead on advertising, picking up almost $21 million on TV.
RHODE ISLAND VOTERS MOST COURTED
Tiny Rhode Island has seen the highest level of spending per voter. While spending is a relatively low $5.8 million, the small voting population has driven the cost-per-voter to almost $8 apiece. Voters there have seen 15,800 ads since January 2013.
SPENDING NOT CONSISTENT
While the high-cost races in Pennsylvania, Texas and Florida have eye-popping numbers of ads, they are hardly the rule. Utah, New Jersey, Louisiana, Mississippi, Delaware and Wyoming have not seen any state-office TV ads on broadcast stations or national cable yet this year, according to the center’s report. Voters in Montana have seen just 21 ads; North Dakota voters have seen 34 ads and Kentucky voters have been shown 35 ads, according to the report.