On Ads, GOP Spends 40% More Than Democrats
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WASHINGTON — The images are searing, violent. Smoke and flames pouring from the World Trade Center towers. Bullets ripping through military protective vests.The scenes are from this year’s campaign ad wars, waged outside the control of candidates or political parties.
Heading into the final weeks before the November 7 elections, independent advocacy groups, many financed by a few wealthy donors, are spending millions on ads in some of the most contested states and congressional districts.
Between January 1 and September 26, Republican-leaning groups spent $13.8 million on advertising while advertising on behalf of Democrats totaled $6.3 million, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group.Throw in the advertising the political parties are paying for, and the Republicans have spent $5 on ads for every $3 spent by Democrats.
That is a significant reversal from 2004, when Democratic groups outnumbered and outspent Republican organizations. Now, some Democratic officials are wondering when their deep-pocketed liberal allies will step in to help.
“If it’s there, I haven’t seen it,” said Rep.Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois Democrat who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.”I can’t tell you what happened from ’04 to ’06 and why some decided either not to participate in this election or not be at the same level.”
As election day nears, television viewers have been introduced to Republicanoriented groups with names such a Progress for America, Softer Voices and the Economic Freedom Fund. Their benefactors include Univision founder Andrew Perenchio; a conservative philanthropist, John Templeton Jr. of Bryn Mawr, Pa.; a former manager of the Brandywine mutual funds, Foster Friess, and the Texas builder who helped finance the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that attacked Senator Kerry’s Vietnam record during the 2004 presidential race, Bob Perry.Progress for America is credited with helping President Bush’s re-election with a powerful ad evoking the September 11, 2001, attacks. The GOP-leaning group now is running ads in Missouri and Ohio that support the war in Iraq.
The Economic Freedom Fund, bankrolled by Perry, is running ads in congressional districts in Iowa, Indiana, Georgia, and West Virginia.
SofterVoices, backed by Messrs.Friess and Templeton, has spent $850,000 in an ad campaign in Pennsylvania on behalf of Senator Santorum, a Republican who is running behind Democrat Bob Casey.
So far, most of the Democratic advertising help has come from MoveOn.org, a liberal group has been raising smaller contributions as a federally regulated political action committee. MoveOn spent most of its advertising money in March, targeting congressional districts that were not yet considered vulnerable for Republicans but have since become competitive. Right now, MoveOn is only advertising in two New York congressional districts and one in New Hampshire.
Democrats have gotten help from VoteVets, a PAC formed by military veterans who are critical of the Iraq war. The group is focusing on Mr. Santorum and Senators Allen of Virginia and Burns of Montana, both Republicans.