Three things we learned from ad spending this week

Published September 22, 2016

by Mark Binker, WRAL, September 21, 2016.

WRAL News typically uses information from Kantar Media to keep track of the big picture in statewide races.

For example, we know that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has been outspending Republican Donald Trump in North Carolina all year. That trend continued during the first three weeks of September, when Clinton and pro-Clinton nonprofits spent an estimated $3.7 million to air 8,496 broadcast television commercials, compared with roughly $900,000 and 1,909 broadcast spots for Trump and his allies.

Keep in mind, those ad counts are typically very accurate in tracking each instance of a spot airing, although the dollar figures are estimates.

Statewide races not withstanding, sometimes the little nuggets buried in the data about other races are the most interesting. Here are few things lurking in our cache of information from Kantar.

NC Chamber for Wade

The North Carolina Chamber has spent an estimated $52,000 on advertising in the Greensboro are on behalf of state Sen. Trudy Wade, R-Guilford. Wade is a regular sponsor of business-friendly measures that pare regulations, so the backing from the business lobby is no surprise. Still, Wade's district is one that on its face leans Republican, so it's somewhat unexpected outside spenders would bother putting money into it.

Battle in the west?

State Senate District 50 is in the far western part of North Carolina, as close to Nashville, Tenn., as it is to Raleigh. It's not the sort of district where we tend to see a lot of broadcast ads.

That said, Democrat Jane Hipps is on the air with a spot critical of "Raleigh politicians" for their handing of education funding. She pledges to make sure lottery funds go to public schools.

Hipps is running to unseat Sen. Jim Davis, R-Macon, a three-term incumbent. Hipps reported having $144,386.49 cash on hand at the end of June, giving her an advantage at the time over Davis, who had $7,535.18 in the bank. It's entirely possible Davis has made up fundraising ground since then or that outside spenders will come in to help him. But those numbers, added to the fact Hipps has enough money to spend on television, might raise the statewide profile of this race.

Whither Congress?

As expected, we're seeing millions of dollars in ad spending on the three foremost statewide races for president, governor and U.S. Senate, and as noted above, even some legislative candidates are getting into the act.

But where are the U.S. House races?

According to Kantar Media, no U.S. House campaign has spent money on broadcast television advertising since June, when a special congressional primary concluded. That may be a reflection of how solidly in either the Republican or Democratic column most congressional districts are.