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November 2, 2010

campaign spending summary 2010

Here are some preliminary figures on campaign spending for 2010: numbers will rise with the next round of disclosures.

Independent expenditures are those disclosed to the FEC through Oct. 31 and compiled by the Washington Post. TV spending is based on actual purchases of advertising time, as measured by Kantar Media (inc.) and reported in The New York Times. The bars for campaign spending refer to disbursements reported to the FEC as shown on the FEC's website today. These categories are not mutually exclusive: TV spending is a subset of campaign spending.

Note that both the Democrats and the Republicans are spending right about 37% of their campaign money on television. It's interesting to compare that strategic choice to the pre-Internet era. According to the Congressional Research Service (PDF), "major-party Senate candidates in 1992 spent 42% of their funds on electronic media advertising. ... Major party House candidates that year spent 27% of their resources on electronic media. These percentage levels were similar in both 1990 and 1994." These estimates from the 1990s include TV and radio air time, plus production costs and media consultants, whereas I show only TV time above. Thus it appears that candidates are now spending a higher proportion of their money on TV than they used to, but not a much higher proportion. That may surprise people who believe that TV has decreasing importance--or perhaps campaigns are misspending their money.

It may also surprise many Democrats that their side is ahead in independent expenditures and not far behind in total campaign expenditures (i.e., Senate and House campaigns combined). Putting those two categories together, Democrats and pro-Democratic groups are $36 million behind the Republicans, which is equivalent to about five percent of their total resources.

November 2, 2010 9:59 AM | category: none



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