Explosion of spending pushes up cost of US Senate race

Posted October 14, 2014

Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis

— The candidates for North Carolina's U.S. Senate seat and their political allies aired 12,514 political spots on broadcast television, costing an estimated $9.6 million in the first 12 days of October alone, according to data provided to WRAL News by Kantar Media.

From May 7, the day after the North Carolina primary that pitted Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan against Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis, through Oct. 12, an estimated $37.8 million has been spent on broadcast advertising alone. That figure doesn't count cable ads, ads played as part of Internet videos or other non-ad spending by the campaigns.

Libertarian Sean Haugh is also on the ballot, but thus far, he has logged no television advertising. Senate debate Political TV ad spending in North Carolina

While North Carolina's U.S. Senate campaign has been one of the most expensive and hotly contested throughout the year, more money is on the way. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, for example, announced this week it will pour $6 million more into the contest. With three weeks left to go before Nov. 4, spending on broadcast ads in the Senate race is on pace to easily crest over $60 million and could approach $70 million.


This chart counts each time a commercial related to the North Carolina U.S. Senate campaign airs on a broadcast television station. The data is provided to WRAL News by Kantar Media Services. Commercials included are those paid for by candidates and political parties, as well as those aired by third-party independent spending groups such as super PACs and 501(c)(4) organizations.


Kantar Media estimates ad spending using a formula that takes into account the media market and time of day an ad airs. It counts each instance of an ad airing on a broadcast television station.

It is clear from the latest data that Hagan is putting her fundraising advantage over Tillis to use on the air. She has put more ads on the air this year – 11,485 – and spent more since Jan. 1 – $6.4 million – than any other candidate, party or group that has tried to influence the Senate race on the air.

Outside spending groups that backed Tillis took an early spending lead early in 2014. But in the past three months, Hagan's spending has helped her take an advantage, with 39,544 spots on the air aimed at helping her compared with 33,637 ads for the year favoring Tillis.


The data for this chart is provided to WRAL News by Kantar Media Services. This bar chart shows the ESTIMATED spending in the U.S. Senate race by advertiser on broadcast television commercials. Kantar compiles these estimates based on air time and other information.


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  • lprop Oct 21, 2014

    Don't matter which candidate you like the TV stations should love them both.,

  • srw4720 Oct 17, 2014

    Pretty simple
    If you like Ob and what he is doing for/to our country, vote for hagan. If you want change, vote Tillis. Anybody who is reasonably intelligent knows the country is not going in the right direction. When our leader is more concerned about climate change than Isis, we are in trouble.

  • miseem Oct 16, 2014

    View quoted thread

    You mean the $500 million in savings from cutting the Bush era Medicare Advantage program that was supposed to lower cost by having private insurers cover it, but instead led to higher costs for that program? Or penalizing hospitals for repeated admissions for the same problem, or complications from previous treatment for an individual patient? The "cut" Paul Ryan, the budget cutting hero of the right, built into his proposal for Medicaid cost containment?

  • tracmister Oct 16, 2014

    I waited for the Republicans to run a candidate that would win the seat. The only two that I know many people cannot vote for was Tillis and Berger. Instead they choice Tillis. What a terrible record he has in this state. It is indeed a misfortune that his record is actually worse that Hagan's. What a sorry state of affairs for this state and the country if these two are the best each party has to offer for the voters.

  • Danny22 Oct 16, 2014

    The funniest ad is the one where the old lady says Tillis "would cut medicare." Hagan voted for obamacare which cut "500 million from medicare." LOL. Hagan is desperate but it's her own fault for supporting obamanomics.

  • Gary_too Oct 15, 2014

    Oh, come on, WRAL is a mouthpiece for the Democrat Party, you think they would report anything negative about Hagan.

  • Tanya Rose Oct 15, 2014
    user avatar

    All the ads just make me want to stab a pencil in my brain repeatedly.

  • for the people Oct 15, 2014

    [quote=14080551]Post by recontwice[/quote

    please provide a link or some proof of this please. thank you

  • lprop Oct 15, 2014

    You have to look at Tillis and Hagan as good entertainment , small child behavior to survive because you cannot take adults serious that act they way they do. There are three running and I will vote but just don't know for who. If I could find a three headed coin I would juts flip a coin.

  • Monkey_Joe Oct 15, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I am still on the fence as well. I really want to vote FOR a candidate rather than against someone else. Give me a reason to vote for you... someone...