Millions Of Ad Dollars Are Being Spent In State Primary Contests.


They are recounting votes from the Republican primary election in Pennsylvania, but it is another tally that matters more to radio’s 2022 political ad prospects. AdImpact says $78.74 million was spent during the state’s Senate primary race. That includes $1.83 million funneled to Pennsylvania radio stations, including $1.25 million spent by issue groups and $570,000 invested directly by the candidates. Of the six media types utilized during the primary, broadcast television grabbed the biggest share of dollars ($47.33 million), followed by cable TV ($16.55 million).


The Philadelphia market led in overall spending with $24.6 million, followed by Pittsburgh with $17.1 million allocated by Senate candidates. AdImpact says more than $10 million worth of ads were placed in the Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre Scranton markets.


Pennsylvania is expected to be one of the most political ad-rich states this year. To date, Philadelphia has seen the fourth largest sum booked in the country in 2022 with AdImpact putting the total at $67 million. Pittsburgh is seventh at $51 million. But even in smaller cities spending totals are adding up. The Harrisburg market ranks No. 16 in spending so far thanks to the Senate primary.


Most of the Senate money was spent by Republican candidates, who invested a total of $64.12 million in the still-undecided contest between TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, hedge-fund CEO Dave McCormick and political commentator Kathy Barnette, among others. The count shows ten different Republican advertisers spent at least $1 million during the campaign to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Senator Pat Toomey.


The Pennsylvania primary’s top spending advertiser was Honor Pennsylvania, a pro-McCormick Issue Group. AdImpact says it spent $19.12 million or nearly 30% of the total GOP primary total. The pro-Oz group American Leadership Action was the second highest issue group, shelling out $3.64 million, followed by Pennsylvania Conservative Fund, which spent $2.9 million to defeat Oz.


On the Democratic side, a total $14.63 million was spent. Among the candidates, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman’s campaign was responsible for more than half the total spending, putting $7.41 million into what turned out to be an easy win as he captured 59% of the vote. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) spent $2.92 million, followed by State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who spent $280,000.


More Spent On North Carolina Radio


The retirement of Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) also created an open Senate seat in North Carolina, where a major redistricting produced an election year with plenty of competitive races. That delivered more to radio stations in North Carolina ahead of the primary than what Pennsylvania stations pocketed.


Democrat Cheri Beasley spent $3.7 million out of the total $3.9 million invested by Democratic Senate candidates. The top Republican candidate was Ted Budd, who was responsible for $2 million of the total $3.97 million spent by GOP candidates.


In addition, AdImpact says the North Carolina Senate primary saw $17.6 million in spending from issue groups across media types. The highest spending issue group, Club for Growth Action, spent $11.9 million on ads in support of Budd.


AdImpact says the North Carolina primary elections resulted in $45.5 million across all media types. Radio received $2.2 million of that total – the same as what was spent on digital media – but it was behind broadcast television’s $30.4 million and cable TV’s $9.2 million. Overall, Republicans spent $33.7 million or nearly three-times as much as Democrats ($11.7 million).


Abortion Fight Drives Ads


The U.S. Supreme Court has not yet released its final decision on a challenge to the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling, but the prospect of major changes to abortion access is already driving advertising. After a draft opinion was leaked, AdImpact says it has seen a “marked increase” in the number of political ads mentioning abortion.


“Since the beginning of the year, we had seen an average of about 2,000 airings a week relating to abortion. After the leaked draft, that changed dramatically, peaking last week at nearly 20,000 airings,” it says.


Overall, AdImpact says it tracked $205 million in political spending from 2,231 advertisers nationwide. The highest spending advertiser on air was in California tied to pending sports betting legislation. The Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming group spent $6.9 million during the last two weeks and their top ad focused on sports betting legislation in California. Formed by three California tribal governments in February with a $100 million budget, they are campaigning against an online sports betting measure sponsored by out-of-state online gaming corporations.

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