Connecticut’s hotly contested gubernatorial race is contributing to a national trend of heavy spending on gubernatorial campaigns.
Across the country U.S. Senate races have been the top story in this election cycle, but almost $90 million more has been spent on races for governor.
According to a Wesleyan Media Project report, $426 million has been spent on 36 gubernatorial races around the country this year as of Oct 9. Only $337 million has been spent on U.S. Senate races. Meanwhile, U.S. House races trail at only $154 million
All that money has paid for 1.8 million political ads since the beginning of last year, which means TV ad buying is set to exceed $1 billion in this election.
Much of that money is coming from outside groups and PACs. Connecticut is no exception, with $11.3 million in outside money spent on the governor’s race as of Wednesday.
So far, according to records, the Republican Governors Association has given its Grow Connecticut PAC $4.8 million and the Democratic Governors Association has contributed $2.45 million to its Connecticut Forward PAC, as of Wednesday. The Wesleyan report found that the RGA has purchased more ads than any other group in this election.
According to the Wesleyan Media Project there were 2,300 ads aired in Connecticut from Sept. 26 through Oct. 9.
The project found that 79.5 percent of the ads in Connecticut’s gubernatorial race were negative.
PAC money is playing a major role in congressional races as well, with nearly half of the $8.8 million spent so far coming from independent committees. Of that $8.8 million, more than $6.3 million — or 70 percent — has been spent by Democrats.
The Democrats running for Congress in Connecticut have stomped their Republican opponents in fundraising from both small and large donors and PACs. All five of the Democrats running for re-election in Connecticut have raised at least $1 million each, while the five Republican challengers together have only come up with $2.3 million. U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty has raised the most of any candidate with $2.5 million.
Large individual contributions were the biggest source of campaign cash for congressional candidates. Donations between $200 and $2,500 accounted for more than $5.2 million of the $11.8 million the candidates have raised.
The widest funding gap of any race in Connecticut is in the 3rd District, where Republican James Brown has spent less than $5,000 running against 12-term Democratic incumbent Rosa DeLauro, who has spent more than $1 million.
Brown is the only candidate who has not accepted PAC money. He has raised 37 percent of his campaign contributions from small donors, tying him with 1st District challenger Matthew Corey for highest percentage of small donations in a campaign.
Corey’s opponent, U.S. Rep. John Larson, has raised more than $1 million from PACs — more than any other candidate.
Several candidates have used large sums of their own money or lent money to their campaigns. Brown and Corey gave $2,000 and $4,000 to their campaigns respectively and Cavanagh’s loan of $51,000 makes up almost 60 percent of her campaign funds. Greenberg is by far the most personally invested. He’s put more than $1.2 million into his campaign, $60,000 in direct contributions and $1.15 million in loans. None of the Democratic candidates have made any personal contributions to their campaigns this year.
Almost every candidate has had to return some of their contributions. A total of $101,542 has been disqualified by the Federal Election Commission. Dan Debicella, who is running in the 4th Congressional District, has returned the most at $30,900, while Esty, Greenberg, and Himes have all had to return around $20,000.
While it may be hard to believe, the airwaves in Connecticut are not quite as saturated with political ads as they are in other places around the country. Florida saw more than 21,000 ads during two weeks earlier this month where Connecticut only saw 2,300
Connecticut is beating Florida in one area — negative political ads. Connecticut edged Florida out of the top spot by a few percentage points with 79.5 percent negative ads to their 77.1 percent.
Of those thousands of ads flooding TV screens every night, a majority of them — or 64 percent — show anger as the dominant emotion. Enthusiasm, fear, sadness, and pride, in descending order, are next. Humor comes in last, appearing in just 4 percent of ads.