HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Monday is a big deadline for campaigns to file how much money they have raised and spent so far in this election cycle.
That quarterly campaign finance report goes to the State Elections Enforcement Commission. What do those numbers mean? Money and politics.
It is a subject Dr. Erika Franklin-Fowler teaches about and tracks at Wesleyan University’s Media Project in Middletown. She also has a book, titled “Political Advertising in the United States.”
“For television, you’re looking for the audiences that are not…that are sort of sitting back and watching the news, and they’re very important because they still go to the polls,” Franklin-Fowler said. “So, the older Americans, you do want to reach them through old school and traditional methods.”
Traditional methods like television ads.
This year, Republican Bob Stefanowski is challenging the Democratic incumbent Ned Lamont in the race for governor.
“That’s where the candidates are going to spend the bulk of their money,” Franklin-Fowler said. “Typically, that goes to television, but not always, and in a state like Connecticut, you would want to be advertising through other ways to reach voters.”
Like digital online messaging.
“It’s a way for candidates to more increasingly micro-target particular demographics that they want,” Franklin-Fowler said. “They can also talk about different issues to different sets of voters.”
Franklin-Fowler said that campaigns are now increasingly spending more money to advertise digitally because it’s an important tactic nationally. It makes up about 25% of overall campaign spending, at least in the 2020 cycle, Franklin-Fowler adding, “but we do expect that to continue to increase.”
As of the first filing quarter, Stefanowski raised more than $600,000 in individual donations and committed to spending $10 million of his own fortune.
Lamont has publicly stated he will self-fund his campaign. This quarter, the governor loaned his campaign $1.15 million and raised $13,998.14 in individual contributions.
During the last race for governor, Lamont spent an estimated $16 million of his own money. Franklin-Fowler said self-funders have an advantage.
“It also gives him more flexibility to do the things that he wants to do,” Franklin-Fowler said. “It also puts the onus on opponents to then come up with the money to match him.”
Then there are Political Action Committees (PACs) that can’t coordinate with campaigns. Franklin-Fowler says gamesmanship is key.
“Political power is important, right? So donors who are not particularly happy with a particular candidate might, you know, help to fund their opponent.”
CT Truth PAC is betting big on Stefanowski. They have raised more than $1 million and spent $300,000 during the first three months of 2022. The PAC spent $153,000 on TV and digital ads attacking Lamont.
Both Lamont and Stefanowski have chosen running mates. Each will have to be endorsed by the respective parties at next month’s convention. By law, lieutenant governor candidates raise and spend money separately from running mates.