Arizona Senate 2012 - Independent Expenditures
Today’s post will breakdown the independent spending picture for the Arizona Senate contest. We are taking a step back from the question of whether the unlimited money from private sources affected the election to focus on other issues. Which independent groups supported the candidates? Was there a disparity in support? What did the independent expenditure groups purchase with their stacks of cash? Which companies made the most money during this election?
For background, yesterday’s post covered the major details of the race between the two challengers, Jeff Flake (R) and Richard Carmona (D) – campaign disbursements, total outside spending, voting totals and basic polling data. The basic factors were: Flake won the election by 3% of the overall votes and held a steady advantage, on average, in the polls. The Flake campaign disbursed more cash than Carmona, but was also the target of more opposition independent expenditures. Carmona lagged far behind Flake in receiving supporting independent expenditures. In all, a majority of the outside money went toward opposition spending.
The first chart below, displays organizations that supported Carmona and their total expenditure amount.
Carmona received a paltry $180K from supporting groups. The League of Conservation Voters and the Humane Society Legislative Fund and Fair Share Action were Carmona’s only big backers. The next chart is an overview of the groups that supported Flake.
Big national Republican-aligned SuperPACs and 501(c)(4) organizations (Freedomworks, Club for Growth, NRA, etc.) spent large amounts of cash in favor of Flake. In total, outside groups supported Flake to the tune of $3.6M – 95% more than Carmona.
Nine groups disclosed expenditures in opposition to Carmona. Again, large pro-Republican groups footed most of the bill. Race-specific 501(c)(4) organizations and superPACs were not active in this spending category.
National pro-Democratic Party groups flexed their cash-swollen muscles and spent heavily to oppose Flake. The top three spenders, DSCC, Majority PAC and AFSCME People, collectively disclosed nearly $100MM in the 2012 election cycle.
The two charts below display the expenditure type for the sets of independent expenditure organizations targeting Carmona and Flake.
As we’ve done in our previous independent expenditure posts, we sorted the disclosures into some very broad buckets that reflect the end-purpose of the expenditure. The ‘TV ads’ category, for example, includes all expenditures going toward producing TV ads, from design and production costs to purchasing the ad buys. Similarly, the ‘Mail’ category includes many different types of printing, postage and design expenditures. As has been the case for the previous Senate elections in our series, TV ad purchases were the must-have item for independent expenditure groups of all stripes, followed by mail outs, web ads, phone voter contact and radio ads.
The final chart breaks-down which groups made the most money off the 2012 independent expenditures in Arizona.
Pro-Caroma expenditures (spends supporting Carmona and opposing Flake) funnelled large dollars into three media-oriented organizations – Waterfront Strategies, Great American Media and Adelstein Liston. Pro-Flake forces passed a lot of their cash to the Strategic Media organizations, Mentzer Media and Red Sea, but also spread their expenditures out to more media and campaign companies than pro-Carmona indy groups.
After reviewing this aspect of the spending picture, can we point to any specific trends / patters / findings of note?
- The disclosure picture was dominated by large national PACs/SuperPACs/501(c)(4) groups rather than state/election-specific organizations.
- Many of the big spenders both registered supporting and opposition expenditures benefiting their candidate of choice.
- More independent expenditure organizations spent more money in favor of Flake.
For the third time in our exploration of 2012 elections, the candidate experiencing more opposition spending had the edge in the campaign disbursements, suggesting that outside groups may be compensating for general funding disparities.
Check back tomorrow for another post in CBMG’s series on the 2012 Arizona Senate election and feel free to post any questions in the comments section.