For Immediate Release
Wednesday, November 18, 2004
Natalia Kennedy, 212 998–6736
BUYING TIME 2004: Total Amount Spent on Judicial Advertising Peaks at $21 Million
New York, NY—During the 2004 election season, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law released weekly real-time reports on television advertisement spending in state Supreme Court elections. These reports analyzed television advertising by candidates, political parties, and interest groups. This report, the final in the series, provides an in-depth analysis of an unprecedented year, which saw exponential growth in judicial election television advertising.
This year, television advertisement spending in state Supreme Court elections reached an all time high of just over $21 million dollars. Candidates bought over $11 million in airtime, more than half of this years total amount and almost 20% greater than the total $10.6 million spent in 2000.
High spending by candidates means that special interest groups are giving substantial amounts directly to judicial candidates, furthering the impression that justice is for sale, said Deborah Goldberg, Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center.
Final Report Through November 16, 2004:
- Primary Election Spending Explodes: The $3.8 million spent on television advertising in this years primary election season is over 37 times the $96,000 spent in 2002. Primary spending accounts for almost 20% of the total amount spent over the entire 2004 election season. The number of states experiencing television ads during their primary judicial elections also increased more than four-fold from two states (IL & ID) in 2002 to nine states (AL, AR, GA, LA, NV, OR, WA, WV) in 2004. Almost two-thirds of the states with state Supreme Court television advertising in 2004 saw ads targeting primary election candidates.
Big Spenders, Big Winners: Successful candidates almost universally enjoyed more television advertising in their favor than did losing candidates. This pattern applied even to low-spending races in Louisiana, Oregon, and Washington, states where less than $100,000 was spent on television ads. Out of 28 races with television advertising, only 3 losers had television ad support that exceeded that of their winning opponents.
Highest Spending States: Ohio was the top spending state for the third consecutive election season. Just shy of $7 million was spent on television advertising for the four races in Ohio. Illinois easily earned the title of the top spending race with approximately $5.5 million spent on a single race, almost double the second highest spending race in Ohio ($3 million). West Virginia was the top spending state that experienced television advertising for the first time in 2004. Approximately $1.7 million dollars was spend in West Virginia, 60% more than the amount spent in the seven other new states combined (AR, GA, LA, KY, NC, NM, OR).
Attack Ads on the Rise Again: While the percentage of attack ads in 2002 (9%) declined substantially from 40% in 2000, attack ads rose in prominence this year. In 2004, close to one-quarter of the spots were negative in tone. The number of attack ad airings increased more than 400% from 2002 and almost doubled from 2000. Interest groups continue to sponsor more negative ads, with 60% of all attack ads paid for by groups, and 53% of interest group ads negative in tone. Most (56%) political party ads were also negative.
Negative ads are known to depress voter turnout, which allows special interest groups to assert even more influence over judicial elections, says Deborah Goldberg, Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. Reports: (Data Current Through November 16, 2004)
Election Year Comparision
Storyboards for All States
For More Information
Buying Time 2004 reports, including links to the storyboards, are available at: www.brennancenter.org/programs/buyingtime_2004. The reports will also be included in the Justice at Stake 2004 Supreme Court Elections Real Time Tracking Project (www.justiceatstake.org) along with information about candidate fundraising and special interest activity.
For more information, please contact Natalia Kennedy at the Brennan Center at 212–998–6736 or visit www.brennancenter.org. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law develops and implements a non-partisan agenda of scholarship, public education, and legal action that promotes equality and human dignity, while safeguarding fundamental freedoms.
For additional information about the Center’s work to promote fair and impartial courts, please visit:
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, founded in 1995, unites thinkers and advocates in pursuit of a vision of inclusive and effective democracy. Its mission is to develop and implement an innovative, nonpartisan agenda of scholarship, public education, and legal action that promotes equality and human dignity, while safeguarding fundamental freedoms.
Please visit www.brennancenter.org.