Editor's note: This election cycle, Westword is exploring the public records of television stations for information on how candidates are spending money on ads in Denver.
In Denver, the Obama campaign is spending a lot more money on TV ads than is Romney's. After digging through more public records, it's obvious that this trend holds true for the super PACs backing the two presidential candidates -- which is why Donnie, the star of a Romney-bashing ad, is getting so much local airtime.
Super PACS are the controversial independent political fundraising committees that technically don't "coordinate" with the candidates they are backing. Yet they're shaping up to be key players nationally as the candidates and their supporters race to raise money and compete for time on the airwaves.
While the super PACs are in theory separate from the candidates themselves, it would appear that two major super PAC fundraising schemes in Denver loosely mirror that of the official campaigns' ad spending strategies so far.
Based on our research, pro-Obama PACs have been spending big at major Denver metro area TV stations, with significantly less spending from the main super PAC behind the GOP candidate.
Before we get into the number-crunching we did on super PACs, it's worth noting that we've been investigating broadcast ad buys so far -- by physically stopping into the assorted TV stations, which are required to have public records available for political ad spending. Crossroads GPS, a major Romney-supporting super PAC run by former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, does not have any ad buys on record at the broadcast stations we visited, but a spokesman told Westword today that while the group has not recently bought airtime for broadcast ads in Denver, Crossroads has invested in cable TV ads. And it has been reported recently that Crossroads is funneling a lot of money into swing state ads.
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Let's start with 9NEWS/KUSA, which generally has the largest market share of ads in the Denver metro area, according to records from several stations.
The station had seven ad orders on file from Priorities USA, which cost a total of $193,525 and gave the group 188 spots. The ads span from the end of April through June.
At the same station, Restore Our Future, the PAC supporting Romney, had only two ad orders on file, both covering the end of April through early May. These two ads cost a total of $52,600 for fifty spots.
That means at the Denver metro area station with the largest share of ads, Priorities so far has spent more than three times as much as Restore.
(Just as a frame of reference: Rcords show that for these orders, KUSA represents around 31 percent of Priorities' ad buys, the highest slice across stations. But for Restore, KUSA's ad share is at about 23 percent, which records show is not the highest.)
Page down to see a full list of the ad buys and more of our number-crunching at two other stations where Restore has spent significantly less money than Priorities. Earlier this week, Westword stopped by Fox31 (KDVR) and CW Channel 2 (KWGN), partner stations located in the same building down the street from KUSA. The trend for Restore and Priorities spending there was essentially the same.
At KDVR, Restore had only two orders, giving them a combined total of sixteen spots, costing $13,375. The ads also cover a short period over the last two weeks of June. That's a pretty small buy compared to Priorities' six ad orders, totaling 204 spots and costing $60,375.
At KWGN, Priorities also had six orders, buying the group 157 spots, costing a total of $46,150.
Interestingly, Restore so far is not airing any ads at KWGN, which, as we noted in our previous post on spending, has no official ads from the Romney campaign, either.
In response to an inquiry from Westword, Bill Burton, senior strategist for Priorities USA Action, sent along this statement:
We've invested significantly in Denver because Colorado voters are deeply concerned about Romney's record of profiting from the failure of companies and the elimination of promised health benefits. Romney and his firm made over $100 million from a company that went bankrupt and fired 275 Colorado workers.
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A spokeswoman for Restore told us that the PAC doesn't comment on strategy.
As we'll be doing with all of our reports on local ad spending, we are including clean summaries of our notes for each station, to let you see for yourself exactly what the buys from the super PACs look like. Below you'll find the contract dates for each order, followed by the total number of spots, and the total gross amount.
Restore Our Future (backing Romney)
4/30-5/9, 25 spots, $26,300
4/30-5/16, 25 spots, $26,300
Priorities USA Action (backing Obama)
6/12-6/18, 24 spots, $27,150
6/5/12-6/11, 17 spots, $22,925
6/19-6/25, 24 spots, $29,200
5/29-6/4, 30 spots, $24,500
4/30-5/27, 34 spots, $32,025
4/30-5/21, 43 spots, $40,475
4/30-5/14, 16 spots, $17,250 ________
Restore Our Future
6/20 - 6/25, 9 spots, $7,975
6/26 - 6/30, 7 spots, $5,400
Priorities USA Action
6/19-6/25, 33 spots, $14,325
6/12-6/18, 39 spots, $14,825
6/5-6/11, 34 spots, $14,075
5/29-6/4, 28 spots, $4,900
5/22-5/28, 35 spots, $6,125
5/15-5/21, 35 spots, $6,125 ________
Restore Our Future
Priorities USA Action
6/19-6/25, 8 spots, $3,200
6/12-6/18, 8 spots, $3,200
6/5-6/12, 8 spots, $3,200
5/29-6/4, 37 spots, $10,450
5/22-5/28, 48 spots, $13,050
5/15-5/21, 48 spots, $13,050
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