Big Ad Spending, Little Press Scrutiny: NC journalists need to stay on the story of the political ad spending spree
It’s hotter than usual in North Carolina this summer.
And much of the heat is coming from the high-intensity air war being waged here, with presidential campaign ad spending surpassing $20 million as of July 22 in a state that has traditionally been a bystander in presidential contests (until 2008). The ad spending numbers at the Washington Post’s Campaign Ad Tracker say presidential candidates, PACs and interest groups have to date spent $14.5 million in Charlotte (and $5.6 million in Raleigh). Those figures (which tally ads that have actually hit the airwaves, not total buys announced) put Charlotte in the same category as key markets in other swing states—like Tampa ($15.2 million), Cleveland ($13.6), and Las Vegas ($12.6).
In addition to the presidential ad deluge, during combative GOP primaries here, North Carolina’s rural, Charlotte-abutting 8th District Congressional race drew more outside spending than any other district in the country, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (a key follow-the-money resource CJR profiled here.) The 9th District, too—now redesigned in a sinewy shape that takes in Charlotte’s southern and northern suburbs but avoids the center city—was not spared (I wrote for CJR here in April on the mixed results of efforts to factcheck one 9th District candidate’s misleading ad).
Local media here have the opportunity—indeed, the obligation, given the ad saturation—to stay on the story of this spending spree, including shedding light for North Carolinians on who’s spending (whose money) and when and how the ads mislead.