CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Republicans and their allies are outspending Democrats on the Charlotte airwaves by more than a two-to-one margin this election year, according to an NBC Charlotte data analysis of political files at Charlotte’s four network affiliates, WBTV, WCCB, WCNC and WSOC/WAXN.
The GOP and its “superPAC” friends have poured money into the swing state of North Carolina, spending $22.9 million on TV spots in Charlotte alone, more than doubling the Democrats $10.7 million.
Republicans and supporting groups have outspent Democrats and their supporters at almost every level, from the campaign for President to the race for Governor and the two Congressional seats in districts bracketing Charlotte, North Carolina’s 8th and 9th Districts.
As much as a third of the expenses in the Presidential race come from so-called “independent expenditures” – not from the candidates themselves or the major political parties but from outside groups who frequently target the opponent with negative ads.
“For the average viewer, they’re listening to all these campaign commercials, nearly 100 percent of them are bashing the President or bashing Mitt Romney, it’s really a new kind of air war going on in modern campaigns,” said Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College.
In the Governor’s race for the open seat, Republican Pat McCrory was joined by the Republican Governor’s Association spending $2.3 million in Charlotte TV to almost half that for Democrat Walter Dalton and his supporters at $1.2 million.
But the most lopsided races were for Congress, where Republicans and their allies hope to retain an open seat in the 9th District in Charlotte and the suburbs as well as pick up a seat in the rural 8th district to the east.
In those two races, along with a smattering of ads in outlying Congressional races, Republicans and allied independent groups spent a total of $5.2 million, more than five times the amount spent on television ads by Democrats and their supporters, who have spent $958,685 on TV.
The NBC Charlotte I-Team collected the data by visiting all four network affiliates, scanning, photocopying and/or noting every political ad buy in the Charlotte market this year, a total of more than $34 million in advertising.
The I-Team then hand entered the expenditures into a spreadsheet and coded the groups according to party leaning and the particular races targeted by the advertiser.
The NBC Charlotte I-Team will continue to mine the data and report other races in the next few weeks before the general election.