Project Open Vault Shows Increased Spending on Political Ads

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri primary election is over and Project Open Vault is crunching the figures to see just how much candidates and special interest groups spent on mid-Missouri television advertising. 

Project Open Vault is a collaboration between KOMU TV-8, KBIA 91.3, and the Columbia Missourian. The project aims to analyze spending by political candidates through a continuously-updated database and an analysis of advertisements that ran in mid-Missouri television markets. The projects findings this year show an increase in outside groups dumping money into tight state races, like the Republican candidates battling for the GOP Senate nomination.

In total, Project Open Vault showed candidates and political organizations ran 4,430 minutes of political advertising on mid-Missouri television stations, which adds up to $2,427,569 spent on adds between mid-March and the end of July. This is how it breaks down for candidate spending:

For Lt. Governor:

  • Brad Lager (R): $139,975
  • Peter Kinder (R): $85,145
For Governor: 
  • Dave Spence (R): $82,863
  • Jay Nixon (D): $0
For Attorney General: 
  • Chris Koster (D): $46,600
For U.S. Senator: 
  • Claire McCaskill (D): $348,596
  • John Brunner (R): $283, 550
  • Todd Akin (R): $134,735
  • Sarah Steelman (R):  $111,790
For U.S. House of Representatives
  • Teresa Hensley (D): $18,405
  • John Wright (D): $10,445
For Missouri Secretary of State:
  • Jason Kander (D): $98,635
  • Bill Stouffer (R): $0
  • Shane Schoeller (R): $0
For Missouri Treasurer: 
  • Clint Zweifel (D): $48,850
Missouri School of Journalism Professor David Herzog wrote a post on Project Open Vault on primary night, August 7th, about the increase in tax-exempt social welfare organizations contributing to advertising spending. Herzog offers the example of CrossroadsGPS, which ran anti-McCaskill television advertisements leading up to the election. The organization spent more than $170,000 on advertisements and because it is not a political action committee under federal campaign law, it does not need to report its spending to the federal government. 

"One of the things that's new is the scale of the money that's involved now with the 2010 Supreme Court united decision," Herzog said. "That said the federal government could not place limits on independent expenditures that wanted to support candidates or oppose candidates. So those limits are off and there's a lot of money that's flowing."
Here are Project Open Vault's Committee Spending Numbers: 
Crossroads GPS: $171,365

"The way campaigns are waged today is primarily through TV advertising," said Herzog. "Campaigns know that effective TV advertising can raise your candidate's numbers in the polls or you can drive your opponent down in the polls. So TV advertisements are viewed as a very big and effective part of the arsenal in modern campaigns."