Study: Midterm campaign ad spending approaching $1 billion, Fla. governor’s race not the most negative

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Wesleyan researchers have found a gubernatorial race more harsh and dark than the slugfest between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist. It’s Connecticut,  a race sporting a higher percentage of negative campaign ads; the most of any gubernatorial contest in the nation, according to the Wesleyan Media Project.

Between Sept. 26 and Oct. 9, Wesleyan researchers found that 79.5 percent of the commercials promoting the candidacy of either Gov. Dannel Malloy or Republican Tom Foley were deemed negative. Scott and Crist are a close second with 79.2 percent of commercials rated negative, and Wisconsin was third with 77.1 percent.

The Wesleyan Media Project’s mission is to track political advertising and spending. It estimates that total campaign media spending this election cycle is approaching $1 billion.  You can read about the project here and its latest report here.

The report found that the Republican Governors Association aired more ads than any other group during the past two weeks, Crossroads GPS was the biggest spender, investing more than $3.8 million into competitive Senate Races. The report found that the NRA Political Victory Fund was the third largest sponsor during the survey period, followed by the Democratic Governors Association.

 The researchers say Florida claims the lead in the total number of broadcast ads among gubernatorial and senate races during the survey period. Scott and Crist broadcast more than 21,796 ads at a cost of more than $12 million.

The Scott-Crist race ranked six in the number of positive ads broadcast in the Top 10 Least Positive Gubernatorial Races.  Campaigns in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Michigan, New Mexico, Arizona and Illinois all aired a lower percentage of positive ads than the Florida race.

The report’s analysis of the Florida gubernatorial commercials has 14.7 percent positive, 79.2 percent negative and 6.1 percent identified as contrast ads.

The report’s national findings about the mid-term election include:

  • Republicans rely more on advertising by outside groups than Democrats.
  • Groups spending the most during the survey period were the Republican Governors Association, Crossroads GPS, the NRA Political Victory Fund, The House Majority PAC and the Democratic Governors Association.
  • About 26 percent of outside group ads were paid for by “dark money,” the source of the money does not have to be disclosed.