CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The "air war" of television ads over North Carolina's controversial Amendment One, the Marriage Amendment, kicks off this week but an analysis of spending by WCNC-TV and WRAL-TV finds opponents are vastly outspending supporters.
Investigative reporters at the two television stations pulled political advertising contracts from the public files of broadcast stations in the Raleigh and Charlotte markets and added them to amounts disclosed by Time Warner Cable, which carries ads throughout the state.
The results: The "vote no" group (the Coalition to Protect NC Families) outspent the "vote yes" group (Vote for Marriage NC) by a more than two-to-one margin.
Including broadcast and cable expenses in the two largest media markets, the Coalition to Protect NC Families has spent $457,410 compared to $230,600 on TV ads by Vote for Marriage NC.
"They have an uphill battle," said Tammy Fitzgerald of Vote for Marriage. "Actually what they're trying to do is convince the public that same-sex marriage is the right thing to do."
Jeremy Kennedy of the Coalition to Protect NC Families predicted his side would raise more money months ago, before the ads even aired.
"We're asking everybody for three things—their vote, their time and their money. And so far I've been overwhelmed at the response to that," Kennedy said.
The ads both for and against the amendment will air more than 500 times in the next two weeks in the Charlotte media market alone. But according to advertising contracts, 367 of the ads will oppose the amendment while 205 will support it.
Early voters are already casting their ballots on Amendment One. The question is on the primary ballot and voting concludes two weeks from Tuesday.
The ads may not change the minds of viewers so much as motivate each side to get out to the polls.
"It's entirely about getting voters to the polls," added Fitzgerald.