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2014 campaign spending about to surpass $1 billion

Spending on television ads for 2014 House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates is poised to surpass $1 billion, according to the Wesleyan Media Project.

More than $917 million has been spent so far in the 2013-2014 election cycle, the nonpartisan transparency group reports. The most money -- $426 million -- has been spent to purchase more than 700,000 ads in governor's races around the country. Another $337 million has been spent on about 728,000 Senate ads, while $154 million has been spent on House races.

Wesleyan Media Project co-director Travis Ridout said in a statement that spending should break the $1 billion mark in about one or two weeks, just ahead of the Nov. 4 elections. That could amount to at least 2 million ad airings in House, Senate and gubernatorial races by Election Day, he said.

In Senate races across the country, there have been 17.6 percent more ad airings in this election cycle than there were in the 2012 cycle. Ad airings from interest groups account for 40 percent of the Senate ad airings in 2014, compared with 32 percent in 2012.

Meanwhile, the group found that in a recent two-week period (from Sept. 26 to Oct. 9), the ads have been largely negative. Just over half of the ads related to gubernatorial races have been negative, while 47 percent of the ads aired in House races were negative, as were 44 percent of Senate ads. Just under a third of the ads were positive, while the rest were "contrast" ads, which mention both a favored candidate and their opponent.

Just under 26 percent of the ads that aired during that two-week period were paid for with "dark money," the Wesleyan Media Project found in conjunction with the Center for Responsive Politics -- in other words, from groups that aren't legally required to disclose their donors.

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