Which Hoosier Elections Are Being Bought?

Yesterday, I wrote about the various outside groups – at least 3 of which are “headquartered” out of PO boxes at retail shops around the country – who are spending money by the thousands in an effort to influence elections here in Indiana.

These groups are targeting a few specific races here in Indiana, and – unsurprisingly – are spending their money on the handful of competitive races for national office.

Let’s start with my home Congressional district, Indiana’s 9th. It’s one of only two races in Indiana where outside money has topped the $1 million dollar mark so far this cycle, according to the Sunlight Foundation’s excellent tracking tools. As the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette’s Sylvia Smith reported last week, the outside spending has gone overwhelmingly in one direction. When she wrote her piece, the trend was clear:

Money is also pouring into the race between Rep. Baron Hill, D-9th, and Republican Todd Young in the southeastern corner of the state. Groups trying to defeat Hill have spent $447,863; a union defending him has spent $161,921.

Using the most recent data, the numbers look like this:

Supporting Hill $161,921.00 12.15%
Opposing Hill $857,434.33 64.33%
Supporting Young $2,501.50 0.19%
Opposing Young $311,101.41 23.34%
Totals $1,332,958.24 100.00%

The biggest spender in the 9th has been the National Republican Congressional Committee, pumping in more than $437,000 to oppose Baron Hill. But the New Prosperity Foundation just followed their $50,000 ad buy last week with another $80,000 in TV advertising opposing Hill. That Chicago-based group has purchased more airtime in the past week than the Young campaign has spent on TV & radio advertising since the start of his campaign ($117,578).

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have spent just over $311,000, most of it in a $207,000 media buy today, to oppose GOP “Young Gun” candidate, Todd Young. They are the only outside group opposing Young, although a union did buy about $162,000 of ad time in support of Rep. Hill’s re-election campaign in September of 2009.

The most expensive race in the state, though, is up north in Indiana’s 2nd District. Incumbent Blue Dog Democrat Joe Donnelly has been caught in a pricey campaign with state Representative Jackie Walorski. Here are the numbers:

Supporting Donnelly $ 390,048.33 22.80%
Opposing Donnelly $ 928,478.56 54.28%
Electioneering (vs Donnelly) $ 134,500.00 7.86%
Supporting Walorski $ 3,164.67 0.19%
Opposing Walorski $ 254,426.94 14.87%
Totals $ 1,710,618.50 100.00%

The NRCC has spent more than $400,000 opposing Joe Donnelly, a total nearly matched by the 60 Plus Association’s $393,000. The 60 Plus Association, a group I omitted from my post yesterday, is a conservative organization funded by the nation’s largest pharmaceutical firms. In addition, the New Prosperity Foundation has kicked in $130,000, and the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List has spent another $134,500 to try and unseat Donnelly.

On the other side, Donnelly has gotten a boost from more than $300,000 – most spent in the last week – by the National Association of Realtors. The DCCC has spent just over $254,000 in the 2nd District this cycle, most of which was represented by a $156,000 ad buy today. Donnelly’s numbers are somewhat inflated by a union ad buy in support of him last November.

In the race for the open seat in Indiana’s 8th District, the disparity is even greater:

Supporting Van Haaften $ - 0.00%
Opposing Van Haaften $ 536,206.78 97.12%
Supporting Bucshon $ 15,907.31 2.88%
Opposing Bucshon $ - 0.00%
Totals $ 552,114.09 100.00%

The NRCC has spent just over $181,000 on media and surveys opposing state Representative Trent Van Haaften, while the Americans for Job Security has spent more than $355,000 out of their PO box headquarters trying to influence “Indianans” in the race. The DCCC announced today that is was cancelling an ad buy in the 8th District.

In the Indiana Senate race between Representative Brad Ellsworth and former Senator-turned-lobbyist Dan Coats, the numbers are not huge, but staggeringly unilateral:

Supporting Ellsworth $ 90,494.00 21.09%
Opposing Ellsworth $ 53,673.00 12.51%
Electioneering (vs Ellsworth) $ 271,524.00 63.27%
Supporting Coats $ 13,452.06 3.13%
Opposing Coats $ - 0.00%
Totals $ 429,143.06 100.00%

More than 76% of all the outside money spent in this race has been in support of Washington, DC North Carolina mega-lobbyist Dan Coats, but that number doesn’t tell the whole truth. If you omit the $90,000 that a union spent supporting Ellsworth last November – when he was still a House candidate – it’s entirely a one-sided matchup.

The biggest spender in this race, by far, is the US Chamber of Commerce, who devoted $250,000 to ads opposing Brad Ellsworth. That media buy represents 74% of the total outside expenditures in this race since both candidates were decided.

I’ll wrap up with a look at some of the other Indiana races and how these numbers look in the context of previous races tomorrow.