A Closer Look at Television Ad Spending in Virginia's Governor's Race

By: Carly Stephenson Email
By: Carly Stephenson Email

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- With just a few weeks to go until a new governor is elected in Virginia Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe have both spent millions, while Libertarian Robert Sarvis has spent more than $90,000.

McAuliffe has spent the most on television ads and his supporters say it's to show the truth, while Republicans argue they are negative attacks by special interest groups.

"Media ads really don't change peoples minds, that's a misconception. What they really do is they will reinforce a negative perception of somebody or you get your supporters to come out," said political analyst Dr. Bob Roberts.

That reason is not stopping candidates from spending the money.

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, McAuliffe has spent more than $9.3 million on television ad time.

On the other side, Cuccinelli has spent more than $4.5 million and Roberts said that's unusual.

"This is the first time I've seen in recent memory that the Democratic candidate has had a clear lead in media expenditures. That is not usually the case," said Roberts.

Instead, Cuccinelli has spent nearly seven times as much as McAuliffe on polling and phone calls.

Locally Democrats say they're trying to reach voters directly too.

"Talking, knocking on doors is working a lot better and I think that's where our strength is going to be," said Joe Fitzgerald, the Democratic char for the 6th District.

Republicans released a statement addressing the millions spent on ads by McAuliffe.

"With union bosses stuffing Terry McAuliffe's campaign coffers and liberal groups spending millions on false and negative attacks, it's clear that special interests are lining up behind the Washington, D.C. insider and political money-man," said Jahan Wilcox, a GOP spokesman.

However Democrats disagree with the statement.

"We feel that some people call it negative campaigning, we call it facts," said Fitzgerald.

Roberts said it all comes down to strategy.

"They still believe they can win if they turn out their base. The problems the Democrats have is they have to persuade voters who voted for Obama to come out and we're not sure that's going to happen," said Roberts.

Roberts said that McAuliffe will probably focus more on getting votes with phone calls in the last two weeks before the election.

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