The National Republican Congressional Committee stepped up last week to contract for more than $2.2 million in fall TV ads, targeting Colorado’s highly competitive 6th Congressional District race.
That total puts the NRCC ahead of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has reserved $1.7 million in ads for the fall. Incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman faces a strong Democratic challenger in former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. The race is one of two Republican-held House seats that Cook Political Report rates as a tossup, compared with 11 Democratically held tossup seats.
These numbers don’t include any contracts with KMGH Channel 7 for either group or with KCNC for the NRCC, so the totals are likely higher.
Totals: Political ad contracts at Colorado TV stations top $32.7 million and more than 328 hours (that’s almost 14 days) as of July 25. These are contracts filed by TV stations with the Federal Communications Commission, and don’t include ad buys for cable or satellite television networks.
Outside game: The New York Times today points out that outside spending on TV ads is far outpacing the 2010 midterm elections. Colorado’s U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and GOP U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner is a primary focus of the story, which notes that the Senate Majority PAC is among the groups spending to attack Gardner and Americans for Prosperity is spending to attack Udall.
The Times’ analysis is based on data from Kantar Media/CMAG. That conclusion is reflected in this Colorado analysis, which is compiled weekly by entering information on contracts posted on the FCC site, including categorizing ads based on their purchase by candidates or outside groups.
So far, 82 percent of the 2014 Colorado political ad spending – almost $27 million – comes from outside groups, with the Senate Majority PAC leading the way. Crossroads GPS, affiliated with Karl Rove, is the top outside spender on the GOP side thus far, followed by Freedom Partners, which is affiliated with Americans for Prosperity and the Koch brothers, who help fund and direct the two groups and others.
When it comes to candidates, Gardner and Udall have spent or reserved a total of $4 million in ads, while Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has reserved at least $1.1 million in time for the fall (again, KMGH has not filed any Hickenlooper contracts, so his total is likely higher). And Romanoff has reserved almost $760,000 in ad time for the fall.
As the Times story points out, this means campaign messaging is often controlled by outside groups rather than candidates or political parties.
Below are some of the details of Colorado political ad buys through last Friday, July 25.