Political action committees and campaigns are flooding the airwaves in Illinois in an attempt to attract last-minute voters before Tuesday’s primary.
According to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political spending, nearly $22.8 million has been spent on TV- and radio-ad time for the seven-day period prior to Tuesday’s primary.
While Florida and Ohio are the prize winner-takes-all states Tuesday, GOP candidates see Illinois and its 69 delegates still in play.
Click here for summary
Conservative Solutions, a PAC that supports Marco Rubio’s candidacy, spent $1.4 million in Illinois on ads attacking frontrunner Donald Trump, according to the analysis group. Other top spenders include the super-PAC Club for Growth, which spent a total of $2.4 million in Illinois and Florida. Its ads also attacked Trump. The American Future Fund spent $765,000.
Kent Redfield, professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield, said he expects more campaign funds to be spent this presidential cycle compared to 2012, in which more than $2 billion was spent.
“We’re certainly going to have more money spent out of this primary than four years ago because of the contested nature of both sides,” Redfield said.
Meanwhile, according to the media analysis group, Democrat Bernie Sanders is expected to spend $1.5 million on ads in the seven days prior to the primary while Hillary Clinton’s spending is estimated at $1.2 million.
Shifting to state primary races, according to figures from the independently run Illinois Election Data, spending for this year’s primary has hit all-time highs, and much of the money is being spent on two contested state House and Senate races.
In the House 5th District Democratic primary race between state Rep. Ken Dunkin and Juliana Stratton, spending has eclipsed the $5 million mark, with most of that money coming from political action committees and labor groups.
Meanwhile, the 50th District Senate GOP primary race between incumbent state Sen. Sam McCann and challenger Bryce Benton has topped $4 million.
Both races are seen as proxy battles between Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan. According to Sarah Brune with the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, spending of this level suppresses local voices.
“That type of spending really reduces the voice of local donors in those districts and that’s something that really alarms us,” Brune said.
With millions of dollars invested in contested state races, is the money well spent? According to Kent Redfield, campaign ads are targeting several thousand voters.
“If you get 30 percent turnout of registered voters you’re maybe only talking 20,000 votes, you’re talking about spending four and a half million dollars,” Redfield said.
According to the Illinois election data, the lowest amount of money spent on state primary races is the 96th House district race for the GOP between Cindy Deadrick Wolfer and Gary Pierce totaling $11,000.