Continuing a Trend, Outside Groups Have Spent More than $6.5 Million on State Races

Oct 19, 2016


Wednesday is the deadline for candidates for state elected office to file campaign finance reports, detailing how much money they’ve raised and spent since the primary.

 

But these reports will give us only a glimpse of how the political dollars are flowing this year.

 

Following trends in recent elections, outside groups are expected to make a considerable investment to try and sway voters before they go to the polls less than three weeks from now.

 

NHPR digital reporter Brian Wallstin has been keeping an eye on who’s spending what this year, and he talked to All Things Considered host Peter Biello.

 


 

Before we get into the specifics, what’s the bottom line so far? How much have these non-candidate groups put into state-level races this year.

 

All told, a little more than $6.5 million far.

 

The lion’s share of that is, of course, directed at the governor’s race. New Hampshire's corner office is considered one of a handful that are up for grabs in 2016, so both the Republican and Democratic Governor’s Associations are involved, mostly by sponsoring TV ads.

 

A PAC affiliated with Planned Parenthood is also spending on the governor’s race - it dropped more $100,000 on digital ads this week that criticize Republican nominee Chris Sununu, who voted in the past to cut the organization’s funding when he was on the Executive Council.

 

And a union-funded Super PAC called United We Can has committed almost $500,000 for door-to-door canvassing and get out of the vote efforts to support Van Ostern.

 

What about further down the ballot?

 

Part of Planned Parenthood’s big ad buy this week targeted two Executive Council races. The group spent about $265,000 to help Democrats Dan Weeks and Chris Pappas.

 

Meanwhile, the race for the state Senate District 12 seat has attracted the interest of two out-of-state nonprofit political groups. The pro-gun control Everytown for Gun Safety has dropped about $90,000 so far on direct mail opposing incumbent Republican Kevin Avard.

Avard’s challenger, Democrat Peggy Gilmour, is also being helped by Save the Children Action Network, or SCAN, which has pushed for legislation in New Hampshire to fund preschool programs

SCAN has spent about $20,000 on direct mail to help Gilmour, who lost the seat to Avard in 2014.

 

You might remember NHPR reported on SCAN a few weeks back after the group spent $400,000 on the primary elections. They’ve spent another $310,000 so far in the general to help Van Ostern with mailers, polling and digital ads.

 

In the past, political TV ads have accounted for a lot of spending by outside groups in the governor’s race. Who’s benefited the most this year, and what can we expect to see on the air in the final weeks.

 

Right now, Democrats have a sizeable advantage on TV.

 

Through last week, the Democratic Governor’s Association and the New Hampshire Democratic Party, had combined on more than $3.5 million on broadcast ads in the Manchester and Boston markets.

That’s compared to less than a million spent by the Republican Governor’s Association.

 

That disparity will begin to dissipate to some degree this week, but not by much. The Republican group has reserved $1.3 million in ads from now through election day, compared to about $1.9 million by the Democrats.

 

Those numbers will almost certainly change - there’s three weeks left and plenty of 30-second ad slots available on WMUR and the Boston stations.