Politics

October 27, 2012

Drowning in political ads

The presidential race may be lackluster in solidly blue California this year, but it's not hard to see the congressional races in Sacramento – just turn on the television.

The presidential race may be lackluster in solidly blue California this year, but it's not hard to see the congressional races in Sacramento – just turn on the television.

With three hotly contested races in freshly redrawn districts, TV viewers in the Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto TV market have been inundated with nearly $20 million worth of ads bought by super PACs and other non-candidate groups.

The local market ranked second only to Las Vegas in the amount of political advertising activity – measured by the number of political ad buys and related filings with the Federal Communications Commission – for House races over the past week.

More than 95 percent of the ads bought by outside groups in the three districts are classified as negative – attacking one candidate in the race rather than expressing support for the other.

The ad spending leader – so far – is the eastern Sacramento County 7th Congressional District contest between Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Democrat Ami Bera, where outside groups have spent nearly $8 million.

Close behind is Congressional District 10 in the Modesto area, where $7 million has gone to ads mostly opposing Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, and his Democratic challenger, Jose Hernandez.

In the Stockton-based Congressional District 9, 99 percent of the $3.3 million in ads are negative, attacking either Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, or his Republican opponent, Ricky Gill.

The biggest spenders in the three districts are the Republican National Congressional Committee ($4.9 million), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($2.4 million), House Majority PAC (Pro-Democratic, $1.1 million) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (pro-Republican, $1 million).

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