Americans for Prosperity has dominated TV airwaves so far this election cycle.
The Republican-allied group founded by billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch has put up at least 14,301 broadcast television spots since the beginning of last year — more than double any other outside group, candidate or political party, according to Kantar Media’s CMAG, an ad tracker based in New York.
Second place goes to the Senate Majority PAC, with 5,602 pro-Democratic spots, CMAG shows.
Americans for Prosperity says it has spent about $28 million on ads since August attacking Senate Democrats over President Barack Obama’s health-care law. A small amount of that buy has gone into radio and online; most has been for TV. The firepower is aimed at helping Republicans score the net gain of six seats they need to take control of the upper chamber.
With that goal in mind, it’s no surprise that CMAG data current through Feb. 17 show that AFP ads have been in heavy rotation in two of the states that could prove crucial in the battle for the Senate: North Carolina and Louisiana.
In Louisiana, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is being challenged by Republican Representative Bill Cassidy. Two recent polls, one by a Republican firm and one by a Democratic shop, show the contenders within a few points of one another.
In North Carolina, polls show Democrat Kay Hagan also will face a challenge holding onto to her seat, as several Republicans vie to run against her. A full one-third — 5,102 — of AFP’s ads have aired in that state.
“People don’t like political ads. I don’t like them, either,” a woman says at the beginning of an AFP anti-Hagan spot on the air as of this week. The woman, against a white backdrop, directly addresses the camera for 30 seconds to deliver AFP’s message.
“But health care isn’t about politics. It’s about people. It’s not about a website that doesn’t work. It’s not about poll numbers or approval ratings. It’s about people. And millions of people have lost their health insurance. Millions of people can’t see their own doctors. And millions are paying more and getting less. Obamacare doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work.”
The ad concludes by asking viewers to call Hagan and tell her to “stop thinking about politics, and start thinking about people.”
The Senate Majority PAC has devoted most of its airtime to North Carolina, CMAG shows, but hasn’t had anything pro-Hagan on broadcast television since Dec. 19.
Last week, Hagan began receiving reinforcement from the Democratic outside group, Patriot Majority USA. Their ad, which has run 571 times in its first week, says one of the leading Republican contenders, Thom Tillis “sides with health-insurance companies. He’s let them deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and raise rates for women needing mammograms. Tillis supports a plan that would end Medicare as we know it.”
Patriot Majority, like Americans for Prosperity, is a nonprofit that does not disclose its donors.
Kantar Media projects the 2014 congressional races will pump $2.4 billion into local television, a slight uptick from the 2010 midterm elections. That means TV viewers will have thousands of more political ads stream across their screens Election Day.