Illinois was No. 2 in the nation for outside money in congressional races. California was No. 1 at $52.4 million, and Illinois, with six nationally targeted races, saw $43.5 million spent by outside groups, according to the Sunlight Foundation. Most of the money paid for negative ads against the opponent, says Matt Streb, chairman of the political science department at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.
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“I saw a study of Super PAC ads a while back, and something like 80 percent of Super PAC ads were negative,” he said. “We rarely see positive ads anymore. They’ve kind of gone the way of the rotary phone.” “Outside” spending means money spent by individuals and groups other than the candidates’ campaigns – for example, the national congressional campaign committees of each party, and Super PACs.
Streb says there’s nothing wrong with negative ads per se, but they reach a saturation point with the public where they’re no longer effective. His concern is that the sources of outside money are not fully disclosed. The leading race in Illinois for outside spending was U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-Colona) vs. Rep.-elect Cheri Bustos (D-East Moline) in the 17th Congressional District in Western Illinois at $8.8 million, but the other targeted races were close behind.