AUSTIN, Texas — Governor-elect Greg Abbott’s victory over his Democrat opponent Wendy Davis was backed by a major television ad buy — so major, it turns out, that Abbott ended up buying more television ads than any other 2014 candidate in the entire country.
The Center for Public Integrity analyzed data from media buys across the United States during this year’s election, and its most recent report shows that Abbott bought about 45,600 ad spots. His closest competition, Illinois Governor-elect Bruce Rauner and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, bought 40,600 and 29,200 ads, respectively. This figure includes only ads on local broadcast, national network, and national cable stations, not local cable or radio or online ads.
The Center also reported that Abbott spent an estimated $25.2 million to place these ads, dwarfing the estimated $15.2 million Davis spent on her approximately 23,800 ads. Abbott’s ads were also far more positive, with his positive ads outnumbering negative ads by nearly a four-to-one ratio, while Davis’ ads that were either completely negative, or had mixed positive and negative messages outnumbered her positive ads by almost ten-to-one.
Abbott may have bought the most ads, but the Texas Governor’s race was not the most expensive TV ad war. That dubious distinction goes to Florida, with $98 million spent in the battle between the Republican incumbent, Governor Rick Scott, and his predecessor Republican-Governor-turned-independent-now-Democrat Charlie Crist. Scott and his supporters outspent Crist by nearly two-to-one, and the state also had the highest number of negative ads.
Another interesting statistic from Texas was that Dan Branch spent more on TV ads ($5 million) in the primary he lost to Ken Paxton in the Attorney General’s race than Paxton did for the primary and general combined ($4.4 million). Overall, Texas was the third highest spending state, with an estimated $78.8 million dropped on TV ads. In comparison with other states, Texas also stands out in that virtually all of those ad buys were made directly by the candidates themselves, as opposed to political parties or outside PACs, undoubtedly due in no small part to Texas’ campaign finance rules allowing unlimited donations directly to candidates.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.