Outside Groups Outspending McCrory, Cooper By More Than 47-1
North Carolina is home to perhaps the closest gubernatorial race in the country. So it’s no surprise that outside groups are buying up airtime to bolster their candidate of choice.
But this is surprising, these outside groups have spent 47 times more on campaign ads than the candidates themselves. That’s according to a report released July 1, which also shows the race for North Carolina’s governor’s mansion is becoming a proxy war.
When Ashley Balcerzak finished crunching the data on ad buys in the North Carolina governor's race, she went looking for comparisons. None could be found. "Even the amount of money and the number of groups. We’ve seen 11 outside groups in North Carolina’s governor's race alone."
Balcerzak is a fellow with the non-profit Center for Public Integrity. She authored the report. "What’s really interesting about this race is most of the spending we’re seeing in TV ads aren’t coming from the candidates themselves." And that is an understatement.
Using data compiled by Kantar Media, Balcerzak estimates $3.7 million has been spent purchasing ads to influence the governor’s race.
Just $78,000 of that total has been spent by Republican Pat McCrory’s campaign, in a single ad buy dating back to the Carolina Panther's Super Bowl run.
Democrat Roy Cooper hasn’t spent a dime on an ad to date.
But others have been happy to pick up that slack says Balcerzak. "You’ve got these big national powerhouses like the Republican Governor’s Association and the Democratic Governors Association." and they're not alone. "You’re also seeing this big environmental coalition that’s really slamming McCrory for his ties to Duke Energy and water quality and things like that."
In fact Democratic outside groups backing Cooper, or rather attacking McCrory, are out spending their Republican counterparts so far by 2 to 1.
But both sides are spending in North Carolina. Balcerzak says it’s easy to see why. "It’s competitive in the presidential, the Senate race, as well as the governor's race so they’re saying this is a good use of our money here."
And, yes, part of this that has to do with Donald Trump. "A lot of right wing donors, maybe don’t support Trump and aren’t really sure what to do with their money," explains Balcerzak, "so experts are saying they’re kind of funneling this money down to kind of down ballot races."
Take North Carolina’s most well-known, deep pocketed republican, Art Pope.
He has said publicly he will not contribute to Donald Trump’s campaign. But he is donating to at least one outside group running ads in the governor’s race. "Real Jobs North Carolina has funding from Variety Stores Inc. which is Pope’s company."
And Balcerzak says there will be more ads to come. Including some from the candidates. Both the McCrory and Cooper campaigns have already reserved airtime closer to November. At a cost of around $1 million apiece.