LANSING -- Television advertising records show one-sided advertising in Michigan's U.S. Senate race and the contest for the state's presidential electoral votes. However, data suggest a highly competitive campaign in Michigan's First Congressional District.
In the presidential race, nonprofit "issue" groups and superPACs supporting Mitt Romney have spent $12.9 million for ads criticizing the Obama administration and its policies in the seven months since Michigan's February presidential primary. However, even though there has been no television advertising response from the Obama campaign or its supporters in Michigan, polling indicates that Obama has a lead in support among likely state voters.
The most recent advertising in regard to the presidential campaign was a $2.1 million ad blitz by the superPAC Restore Our Future that ran statewide, except the Marquette media market, from September 19th through October 2nd. SuperPACs, which must disclose their donors, have spent $5.1 million for presidential TV advertising in Michigan. Nonprofit "social welfare" corporations, which do not disclose their donors, have spent $7.8 million.
Neither candidate's campaign has paid for an ad in Michigan since the February primary.
"Michigan voters should be aware that there is no accountability as to who has provided the funds for 60 percent of the presidential campaign ads they have seen this campaign season," said Rich Robinson of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network. "That clearly indicates the extent of the campaign finance disclosure problem that Congress needs to address.
In Michigan's U.S. Senate campaign, the television airwaves have belonged exclusively to incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow. Her campaign spent $1.1 million from September 17th through October 7th. It has an additional $4.1 million in place with broadcasters and cable systems for the final four weeks before Election Day.
Former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra's campaign has not bought any television advertising and currently has nothing in place for the final month of the campaign.
1st Congressional District
Former state Rep. Gary McDowell is outspending incumbent U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek for television advertising in the rematch of the 1st District's candidates from 2010, $464,735 to $325,655. However, McDowell's spending advantage is more than offset by heavier spending by the National Republican Campaign Committee compared to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $667,140 to $378,105.
This pattern mirrors the 2010 contest between Benishek and McDowell, when the candidates spent $2.1 million, while "independent" groups spent $4.8 million.
Spending has been evenly divided between the district's two media markets: $919,000 in the northern Lower Peninsula, and $917,000 in the Marquette market.
Television spending data were compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network using records from the public files of state broadcasters and cable systems. Complete TV spending data are not yet available due to varying reporting practices among broadcasters.
MCFN will report on television spending by ballot committees and the political parties, on behalf of Michigan Supreme Court candidates, later this week.