Explosion of spending pushes up cost of US Senate race

Televisions viewers are being bombarded with television ads that have pushed the cost of North Carolina's U.S. Senate campaign over $44 million for the year. Candidates and nonprofits have spent $9.6 million in October alone.

Posted Updated
Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis, 2014 U.S. Senate race
Mark Binker
RALEIGH, N.C. — 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.

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.

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.

Related Topics


Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.