Missouri leads nation in local TV campaign ad spending

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COLUMBIA - With elections just over two weeks away, Missouri leads the nation with the most expensive local political television ads. Missouri beats the rest of the nation in spending on several races including governor, attorney general, lieutenant governor and state treasurer.

The newest data from the Center for Public Integrity shows ad spending for the Missouri governor race alone have reached about $29 million; $5 million more than the next highest state.

The KOMU 8 sales team said the competitive spending reflects competitive state races.

“We have some very hotly contested races here,” KOMU 8 General Manager Marty Siddall said. “If they weren’t as close as they were, it would be different.”

Siddall said candidates can easily see how much air time their opponents are buying compared to previous elections.

“Almost in real time, competing candidates can go to our public file website, look at the ads that are being placed, and react accordingly,” he said.

Siddall said that’s how many viewers stay informed on important ballot issues and candidate platforms. One voter KOMU 8 spoke with said she doesn’t watch TV, in part because of the influx of ads, and prefers to research races the old fashioned way.

“I just kind of try to look at what I can read about what they say they are going to do and see who I agree with the most,” Lynn Decapo said.

For some voters, the political ads help differentiate between the several local races.

“We have basically every important state race on the ballot this year,” Siddall said.

That could be why Missouri ads for attorney general have totaled $12.4 million in spending, making up exactly half of the cost for all local attorney general race ads in the nation.

Missouri is also leading the nation in lieutenant governor ad spending at $2.3 million. Florida is second, having spent $450,930. Missouri ads for state treasurer rank first as well at $239,510 so far.

“I don’t like advertisement in general. I think it feels very silly and I don’t like being bombarded with people’s opinions,” Decapo said.

Even though she hasn’t paid much attention to local campaign ads, candidates are hoping she’s one of few.

“They run right up to election day, and in some cases they’ll run the morning of election day,” Siddall said about the TV ads.

The Center for Public Integrity’s website says information about local political ads will be updated every Thursday through the Nov. 8 election.