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Primary Season Sends Ad Buys Radio’s Way In Georgia, Oregon And Texas.

The political primary season continues to help radio’s bottom line. The latest data from AdImpact shows not only how much was spent ahead of voting in Georgia, Oregon and Texas – but also hints at what is likely to be a pitched battle for governor mansions and control of Congress in November.

Georgia is one of the closely watched states where, according to AdImpact estimates, $99 million was spent during the primary season leading up to the May 24 vote. Democrats outspent Republicans, it says, by a $52.7 million to $46.9 million difference.

The most expensive of the races was the gubernatorial race, with $35.6 million in total spending among the candidates. Radio pulled in the most from Democrat Stacey Abrams, who AdImpact says spent $1.28 million on radio. That compares to incumbent Republican Brian Kemp, who spent just $60,000. But he had air support from outside groups that spent $20 million on radio and other media during the gubernatorial primary.

AdImpact says Atlanta had the biggest spending totals, taking in more than half ($18.7 million) of the nearly $36 million spent in the governors race. Savannah ranked second ($3.1 million), followed by Macon ($2.4 million), and Augusta ($1.8 million). AdImpact says Democrats outspent Republicans in five markets and Republicans outspent Democrats in the other five markets.

Georgia is also on the board with its Lieutenant Governor’s race ranked as the most expensive Lt. Governor primary in 2022 to date after the current office holder, Republican Geoff Dunanc, announced he would not seek reelection. AdImpact says $5.4 million was spent on radio and other media from six candidates and one issue group.

Oregon did not receive the same sort of national attention as Georgia, but the state had a competitive gubernatorial primary for both Republicans and Democrats, as well as a high-profile race in the state’s fifth and sixth congressional districts. AdImpact’s tally shows radio stations received $570,000 in primary ad spending in those three races, or about two percent the total $32.66 million that was invested in the May 17 primary. True to form, broadcast television took eight of every ten dollars spent in Oregon, totaling nearly $26 million. Cable TV ranked second, followed by digital advertising.

One interesting note in the Oregon governor’s race was that the biggest spender was neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Instead, it was former Democratic State Senator Betsy Johnson who is mounting an independent campaign and opted not to sit out of the primary season. AdImpact says she spent $2.2 million to position herself as centrist above the fray of the infighting among members of the two parties. To be successful, Johnson will also need to raise her name recognition because Oregon’s election will be held only through mail-in voting. But her candidacy may also split the Democratic vote and seeing an opening to win in typically blue Oregon, the GOP is also likely to step up its media investments in the coming months.

Portland is where most of the gubernatorial ad spending has occurred so far. AdImpact says the market had more than $5.8 million in ad buys during the primary season.

Looking ahead, AdImpact says the independent candidate in Oregon’s gubernatorial race and pre-bookings by both the GOP’s Congressional Leadership Fund and the Democrats’ House Majority PAC in two House races is a good indication that there will be increased and competitive spending for the general election as well.

Texas Runoff Helps Radio

Sometimes primary season can be a gift to radio that keeps on giving. That is the case in Texas where the March 1 primary did not settle all the races. Instead, a runoff primary was necessary in the Attorney General race and for the 28th congressional district where candidates failed to reach the required 50% of the vote in the initial primary.

Across all runoff elections in Texas, AdImpact says candidates spent over $19.7 million across all media types, with Republicans spending $11.1 million and Democrats allocating $8.6 million. Radio got seven percent of those dollars or $1.4 million. That compared to $11.1 million for broadcast TV, $3.8 million for cable TV, $2.9 million for digital, and $395,000 for satellite TV.

AdImpact says it saw a high amount of outside spending in the still-undecided race that pitted nine-term incumbent Democrat Henry Cuellar against challenger Jessica Cisneros. The runoff winner will face Republican Cassy Garcia in November.

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