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Presidential candidates spending time in Michigan, but not money for TV ads

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

There’s only three weeks until Michigan’s presidential primaries. Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have spent time this month campaigning in Michigan. Republican John Kasich is campaigning in the state too. Republicans and Democratic candidates will hold debates in Michigan next month.  

But Republican and Democratic candidates, as well as third party groups like political action committees, are not rushing to buy up ad time on Michigan TV stations.

Craig Mauger is the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. He says only a Jeb Bush Super PAC has made a big ad buy to date. Mauger says the political action committee Right to Risehas reserved about a million dollars in TV ad time in Michigan.

“There hasn’t been a ton of ad time reserved because there’s so much left to be resolved before Michigan’s primary race really heats up,” says Mauger.

Mauger believes most campaigns are waiting to see who’s still standing after the South Carolina primaries. 

Also, 14 states, including Texas, Virginia and Alabama, are holding primaries and caucuses on March 1, a week before Michigan’s presidential primaries. 

“But by the time it gets that close there won’t be that much ad time left,” says Mauger, “and what would be left would be very expensive.”

Roughly $70 million was spent on ads in Iowa before the January caucuses. Mauger says $100 million was spent on TV ads in New Hampshire.

By comparison, he says less than $7 million was spent on TV ads in Michigan’s 2012 presidential primary.   He expects much more will be spent this year, depending on how many of the candidates are still in the race.   

Here’s a look at some of the TV ads the Republican and Democratic candidates have been running so far this year:

Hillary Clinton

Bernie Sanders

Donald Trump

Ted Cruz

Jeb Bush

Marco Rubio

John Kasich

Ben Carson

And here’s a sample of some of the TV ads third party groups have been running:


Club for Growth

American Encore

Americans United for Change

Americans for Limited Government

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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