Presidential Campaigns Aired More Than $10.6 Million In TV Ads In Michigan

Total Spent On Broadcast TV Time More Than $4 For Every Michigan Primary Voter

Executive Director
Michigan Campaign Finance Network

LANSING, Mich. — Presidential candidates and Super PACs supporting them ran more than $10.6 million in broadcast TV ads in Michigan to try to win the state’s March 8 primary.

With about 2.5 million voters participating in the primary, that total amounted to more than $4 per primary voter. It also easily surpassed the amount spent on TV ads for the 2012 presidential primary in Michigan, $6.4 million.

The candidate who spent the most on TV ads was Democrat Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont. Sanders pulled an upset in the Michigan primary, beating frontrunner Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state. Sanders’ campaign ran about $4.2 million in broadcast ads, based on tracking data from Kantar Media.

That’s more than 8,400 ad spots aimed at Michigan voters, according to the tracking data.

In comparison, Clinton ran about 7,000 ad spots in Michigan. Clinton’s campaign ended up purchasing about $3.4 million in broadcast TV time.

MCFN analyzed the Michigan TV ad buys through the March 8 primary to arrive at the figures. MCFN didn’t include ad buys in the Toledo market that were not part of larger buys aimed at Michigan and didn’t include ad buys in the Duluth, Minn., market which reaches only a small number of Michigan viewers. Many purchases in both the Duluth and Toledo markets were likely focused on the Minnesota and Ohio primaries.

On the Democratic side of things, Super PACs that can take unlimited contributions while allegedly acting independently of the candidates did not make major TV ad buys in Michigan. On the Republican side of things, however, they were much more active, accounting for the majority of the TV spending.

Conservative Solutions, a Super PAC supporting Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, spent the most on TV ads in Michigan among Republican buyers.

While Rubio finished in fourth place in the state’s GOP primary, Conservative Solutions bought $1.5 million in broadcast TV ads in the state. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who finished third benefitted from the second most TV ads in Michigan.

Kasich’s campaign bought $272,299 in ads while the Super PAC that supports him, New Day for America, purchased $670,128 in ads. That’s a combined total of $942,427.

Businessman Donald Trump, who won the Republican primary, bought $480,236 in ads in Michigan while second-place-finisher Ted Cruz, a Texas senator, bought only $1,112 in ads.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, Super PACs reported more than $2.5 million in spending that was independent of the candidates in Michigan. Those expenditures included TV ad buys, digital ad buys, T-Shirts, aerial advertising and numerous other items.

New Day for America and Conservative Solutions were the most active independent spenders.

For Democrats, groups supporting Clinton were the most active. Planned Parenthood Votes bought $125,519 in online ads supporting Clinton and the pro-Clinton Priorities USA bought $291,428 in radio ads supporting her.

Sanders, who opposes the growing role Super PACs are playing in U.S. elections, benefitted from $2,340 in aerial advertising from National Nurses United for Patient Protection.

* The photo is a collage of TV ad images that have been aired this year.

Press Release 2016 News