By David Eggert, Associated Press
LANSING (AP) - Michigan voters saw at least 19,000 political ads on TV that cost an estimated $9.6 million to air in the governor's race through Sept. 8, ranking the state eighth-highest in spending on state-level races this election.
The data, released Wednesday and compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity, show that TV ad spending in the race between Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and Democrat Mark Schauer was mostly still being dominated by independent groups with eight weeks until Election Day. The organization used research from Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks political advertising and offers a widely accepted estimate of the money spent to air each spot.
Here's a look at the numbers:
$1.31 Per Voter
While overall ad spending in state races put Michigan in the top 10, the $9.6 million was the equivalent of $1.31 per possible voter. That's 17th-highest and well below the $7.77 and $3.99 per voter in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, which had competitive gubernatorial primaries. The figures only represent part of the money spent on political advertising. They don't include spending on ads on radio, online and direct mail, as well TV ads on local cable systems or the cost of producing the messages. Federal races like Michigan's open U.S. Senate contest that has wrought at least $20 million in ads aren't included either.
Drop From 2010
Spending on state races in Michigan was down more than $2.3 million through the same point in 2010, or 20 percent. Nearly 11,200, or 37 percent, fewer ads were shown. That's because unlike four years ago, neither gubernatorial candidate faced a primary opponent this time. The Center for Public Integrity said nationwide spending on gubernatorial contests — the biggest-ticket race at the state level — was 60 percent of what it was at this point in 2010. Twenty-nine governors, including Snyder, are seeking re-election compared with 13 in 2010.
Big Independent Spenders
Where Michigan stands out among states is the involvement of "independent" organizations that spent at least $7.1 million as of Sept. 8, behind only Florida groups. The Democratic Governors Association and Republican Governors Association, which can accept unlimited donations from corporations, unions and individuals, made up a high percentage of overall ad spending in Michigan. The Democratic group ran $3.6 million in ads — $2.2 million that were negative, $1.4 million that were a mix of pro-Schauer and anti-Snyder messages. The Republican organization spent $3.5 million, all to go negative against Schauer.
An unusual feature in many of the DGA's Michigan ads is the prominence of Schauer himself, who speaks directly into the camera like he would in his own campaign advertising. Rachel Baye, a reporter for the center, said Michigan — unlike most states — lets candidates coordinate with an outside group as long as they don't "control" the group. The permission of coordination has helped Schauer, who was limited to spending $2 million before the August primary because he accepted public campaign funds and who faces a better-funded incumbent in Snyder.
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