The Wesleyan Media Project released two studies last week detailing its findings on campaign ads and spending. The group found that 2.8 million ads ran in the midterm campaign cycle, amassing over $1.4 billion in spending between January and November 2010. It also deemed the most recent campaign cycle the “most negative,” noting that 87.2% of ads run by independent expenditure groups, made more powerful by the Citizens United ruling, were negative, versus just over 37% of ads run by candidates’ campaign committees.
In the House, where significant Republican gains were projected, the group found that the number of ads by interest groups increased 168%, compared to just a 44% increase in Senate races. In the first study, the authors concluded “with the increase in competitive races in 2010, the volume of advertising rose too, as did its negativity.” They also mentioned that “Republicans [took] up some unusual themes, like health care and ‘change.’”
The second study, which analyzed the impact of the Citizens United ruling, found that “while interest groups were aggressive players in the air war, their impact may not have been as negative or as large as initially predicted.”
The group admonishes that “knowing what campaign themes brought [the 112th Congress] to power is an important prerequisite of holding government accountable.”