- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new study confirms what anyone watching Iowa television probably knows already - Gov. Terry Branstad is massively outspending his Democratic opponent Jack Hatch in the Republican incumbent’s drive for re-election.

The data compiled by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity and released Wednesday shows that an estimated $2.9 million has been spent on television advertising in Iowa state level races- such as governor or the state legislature - through Sept. 8. Nearly all the money has been spent on the governor’s race, with $2.2 million coming from Branstad’s campaign, $129,200 from the Hatch campaign and most of the rest from outside groups.

Branstad is the heavy favorite in the race and recent polls have shown him with a commanding lead.

The center reviewed data about political advertising on national cable and broadcast television in all of the country’s 210 media markets. The organization used research from Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks political advertising and offers a widely accepted estimate of the money spent to air each spot. The figures only include the cost of placing the ads, not producing them, and only capture those ads already run, not orders placed. These figures are estimates and only represent part of the money spent on political advertising. The figures do not include millions of dollars spent on Iowa’s hotly contested Senate race between state Sen. Joni Ernst and Rep. Bruce Braley.

Here are some key things to know about the numbers:

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RANKING THE STATES

Iowa falls in the middle of the pack in terms of overall television advertising spending on state races, coming in 23rd among the 44 states listed in the report. The top state was Pennsylvania, where $37.8 million had been spent in this time period. Broken down by voting population, an estimated $1.29 has been spent on each eligible voter in Iowa. Rhode Island topped the spending on a per voter basis, with $7.77 for each eligible voter.

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OUTSIDE GROUPS

Most of the money spent in Iowa came from the candidates. Branstad’s campaign has shelled out $2.2 million and Hatch spent $129,200 through Sept. 8. But there has been some outside spending in the race. The political action committee associated with the Republican Governor’s Association has spent $462,500 on ads attacking Hatch. A veterans group spent $156,900 on ads for Branstad. The only outside group to spend money for Hatch was Progress Iowa, a left leaning nonprofit which spent $900 to run six ads.

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SPENDING DOWN

The overall amount spent in Iowa on state level races is lower than in 2010, the year Branstad emerged from retirement to challenge a Democratic incumbent governor. This cycle $2.9 million has gone to 9,926 ads aired through Sept. 8. In the 2010 election cycle, $3.5 million was spent in Iowa on 13,859 ads during a similar time period.

“That was kind of an epic year in terms of competitive gubernatorial races,” said John Dunbar, deputy executive editor of the Center, said of the 2010 election. “What we have this year, a lot of those folks who got elected are still in office. It wasn’t surprising that the overall amount of money was down. “

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MIXED MESSAGES

Branstad has kept his campaign ads positive, running 6,847 such advertisements in the race. The RGA PAC has run 1,729 negative ads attacking Hatch. Hatch has run 528 ads with a mixed message and 56 negative ads.

Kytja Weir, project manager with the Center, said outside groups tend to run more attack ads than the candidates, noting: “They really can muddy the waters for voters trying to understand who’s doing what.”

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WHAT’S NEXT

Branstad campaign manager Jake Ketzner said they’ll be on TV every day between now and Election Day, stressing that a good turnout for governor will help other Republicans. “The better campaign we run, that will help all the candidates on the ticket,” Ketzner said.

But Hatch’s campaign manager Grant Woodard said they remain optimistic, stressing that the campaign has picked up television advertising spending since Sept. 9. “There’s a disparity in race, but it can still be competitive,” he said.

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Online:

Center for Public Integrity: https://www.publicintegrity.org/who-calls-shots

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