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Though much attention is focused on the presidential election more than a year away, seven states have major elections in 2015.

The Center for Public Integrity is tracking the political TV ads that are shaping those races.

More than $28 million has been spent to air ads so far. Here’s where some of that money went:

  • With an estimated $12.2 million in broadcast TV airtime purchased so far, candidates and independent groups have spent more than $3 per every eligible Kentucky voter on ads about the state’s 2015 elections. 
  • TV viewers in Lexington, Kentucky, have had the most political TV ads aired about state races so far. If run back to back, the ads would take more than 111 hours to watch.
  • Five independent political groups are airing TV ads to try to sink or elevate candidates in Louisiana’s heated gubernatorial race ahead of the Oct. 24 primary. The groups’ ads account for more than a third of the estimated $6.5 million worth of TV ad dollars spent for that office. 
  • Republican Phil Bryant is so confident he’ll win his re-election bid for Mississippi governor that his campaign has run fewer TV ads than even the incumbent in the state’s auditor race. 
  • Outside of this year’s gubernatorial races, the biggest advertiser in the 2015 state elections is Kevin Dougherty, a Democratic candidate for one of the three open seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He spent more than $1 million on airtime ahead of the May 19 primary, much of it fueled by campaign cash he received from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, where his brother is a prominent leader. 
  • Kentucky Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway and his running mate have aired the most attack ads in the 2015 races. Candidates often try to steer clear of making negative ads, leaving the dirty work to independent groups, but Conway’s campaign has spent more than $1.6 million on TV attack ads. That’s three out of every four dollars of its advertising cash on ads slamming Republican candidate Matt Bevin. 

Sources: Center for Public Integrity analysis of Kantar Media/CMAG data through Oct. 5; U.S. Census/Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey.


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Kytja Weir

Kytja Weir joined the Center for Public Integrity in 2013 and leads its state politics team, which seeks...