You will need to steer clear of the TV at breakfast and dinner time next week if you want to avoid a deluge of campaign commercials.
The Republican and Democratic primary election for governor is August 7. Next week marks the last full week before the election and is prime time for campaigns to get their message out through TV.
An Eagle review of invoices and purchase orders at TV stations in Wichita, Kansas City and Topeka show about $1.2 million has been spent on broadcast TV commercials so far by the Kansas candidates for governor.
All of that money adds up to a lot of air time.
Political ads are scheduled to appear at least 172 times on Wichita broadcast TV stations, according to a review of purchase orders placed by the governor campaigns, as well as candidates for other offices and third-party groups.
That figure is likely to rise (and may already be higher by the time you read this) because campaigns are still locking in ad purchases and TV stations update their public files to include the new orders.
“If someone says they’ve never seen so many ads in the summer, they’re probably right,” said Bob Beatty, a political scientist at Washburn University who tracks Kansas campaign ads.
When you’ll see them
Your best hope of avoiding campaign commercials is late at night, when only a handful are set to air.
But if you’re not a night owl, and still want to minimize the ads, your next best option is to watch TV between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. and again between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
You’ll see the most ads during local and national news programs that air early in the morning, again at noon and then again at dinner time.
The single highest concentration of political ads next week will come between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. During that two-hour stretch, which includes local news shows as well as programs like Today and Good Morning America, campaign ads will appear at least 41 times over the course of the week.
Campaign ads will appear at least 25 times from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. – so don’t think you can escape just by getting up early.
At noon, the air is a little less saturated with politics. Campaign ads are set to appear at least 23 times between noon and 2 p.m. over the span of the week.
Things begin to kick up again at 4 p.m., when some stations have news. Campaign ads reach their evening peak during the 6 p.m. local news, with political commercials set to air at least 19 times between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and then another 11 times from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
A similar spike occurs during the 10 p.m. news, with ads set to air at least 19 times next week.
Lastly, remember this only applies to broadcast TV. Things may be different on cable and on streaming services.
To recap, your best bets to avoid political TV ads:
- Become a night owl
- Watch TV in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon
- Don’t watch TV
While the candidates for governor have collectively spent about $1.2 million on broadcast TV ads, a review of purchase orders and invoices also gives us an idea of what each candidate is spending.
Here’s where the candidates rank in terms of spending on broadcast TV advertising:
- Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach — $470,000
- Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer — $408,000
- Democratic Sen. Laura Kelly — $143,000
- Independent Greg Orman — $107,000
- Republican Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer — $51,000
- Republican former state senator Jim Barnett — $44,000
- Democratic former Wichita mayor Carl Brewer — $35,000
Several campaigns confirmed their numbers. Some didn’t respond, but none disputed their figure when given the opportunity.
A spokeswoman for Selzer’s campaign said his figure could be true, but said it will change because the campaign was locking in another purchase of advertising time.
Kobach campaign manager J.R. Claeys said the TV time is needed to combat the influence of outside groups.
“We have to be competitive not only with the candidates, but also with the George Soros-funded ACLU and a dark money group called A Public Voice,” Claeys said.
The American Civil Liberties Union has been sending mailers attacking Kobach’s record on civil rights, which Kobach was worn like a badge of honor.
A Public Voice, based in Ohio, has been running pro-Colyer ads. Few details are available about the group, but its TV time has been purchased by AxMedia, a Kansas City-based firm owned by veteran GOP consultant Jeff Roe.
“There’s never been so many political ads for a governor in the primary. That’s pretty safe to say,” Beatty said.
One candidate notably absent from the list: Democrat Josh Svaty.
Svaty has produced ad-like videos with high production values that appear online, but the former state legislator’s campaign confirmed it is not purchasing TV time in the primary race.
“We are running a 21st Century campaign using our resources across primarily digital and social channels. A primary race allows you to target your messaging to specific Democratic audiences,” Svaty spokesman Mike Swenson said. “Strategically, television is used to speak to the broad swath of all voters and it will be back on the table for the general election.”
We’ll get a fuller picture of each candidates’ spending next week, when the campaigns release finance reports tracking their donations and expenditures for the first half of the year.