Nearly $4M spent on 7,800 commercials



Kathy Hochul and Chris Collins will spend more than $4 million on television advertising this campaign season to win a job that pays $174,000 a year.

But it’s not really about the pay, it’s about control of Congress, which Democrats are trying to wrestle back from the Republicans after losing it two years ago.

An Investigative Post analysis of spending in TV ads for the 27th District race, based on contracts on file with major network affiliates in Buffalo and Rochester, found that Collins has outspent Hochul $2.2 million vs. $1.7 million, thanks in large part to the support of political action committees.

According to records on file with television stations, PACs have spent $1,581,220 on ads on Collins’ behalf, while the candidate’s campaign committee has purchased $633,360 in spots. That means PACs have covered the cost of more than two-thirds of the spots run on Collins’ behalf.

It’s a different story for Hochul, whose campaign has spent $1,122,088 on TV spots, vs. $599,850 by PACs.

Add it all up and GOP leaning PACs in support of Collins are outspending Democrats backing Hochul by 2 1/2 to 1.

Another major finding of the Investigative Post : The airwaves are awash with commercials for the two candidates, which comes as no surprise to TV viewers.

So far this campaign, contracts have been signed to air more than 4,400 spots in the Buffalo market – with more on the way – and more than 3,400 in Rochester. That’s approaching 8,000 commercials between the two markets.

Total spots in the Buffalo market last year topped 5,500, when Hochul, Republican Jane Corwin and Tea Party candidate Jack Davis ran for the seat vacated by Chris Lee. Hochul won the race in a bit of an upset in the Republican-leaning district.

All this is to say the airwaves in Buffalo have been saturated with nearly 10,000 spots in the past two years for one Congressional race.

To obtain the data for the analysis, Investigative Post used information from 353 television contracts placed through last Tuesday on behalf of Congressional candidates in the district last year and this year. The contracts are a matter of public record under Federal Communication Commission rules.

The stations included WGRZ, WIVB, WKBW and WUTV in Buffalo and WROC, WHAM, WHEC and WHUF in Rochester.

Here’s what the analysis found:

  • Total spending in this year’s race stood at $3.9 million as of last Tuesday.
  • The Corwin-Davis-Hochul race last year involved $4.9 million in television advertising in the Buffalo and Rochester markets. Corwin spent more on TV ads ($2,490,635) than Davis ($1,079,143) and Hochul (942,057) combined.
  • Rochester was the television battleground a year ago, where six out of every 10 television dollars were spent. This year, nearly two-thirds has been spent in the Buffalo market. Spending between the two markets is close over two years, $4.5 million in Buffalo vs. $4.4 million in Rochester.
  • Four PACs account for the lion’s share of PAC spending for Collins. They include the National Republican Congressional Committee ($491,880), the Congressional Leadership Fund ($462,800), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($311,455) and the American Action Network ($298,845).
  • The House Majority PAC ($570,560) accounts for the lion’s share PAC spending on Hochul’s behalf this year.
  • Crossroads Media – headed by Carl Rove, best known as the political mastermind behind former President George W. Bush – has purchased $729,550 in ads for the Collins campaign.
  • The cost of ads, typically 30 second spots, range from about $200 to $2,000. Commercials aired during Buffalo Bills games or in prime time cost the most.