Political media spending for the midterm election broke a number of records. The final tally hit an all-time high of $4.55 billion, surpassing the 2008 presidential election by 8 percent, per figures released Wednesday (Dec. 15) by PQ Media.
Compared to the last midterm election in 2006, spending was up 44.9 percent. Of the total, advertising—representing 69.5 percent of all campaign media expenditures—grew 10.5 percent over 2008 and 45 percent over 2006 to $3.16 billion.
The largest share of the dollars—about a third—went to the 37 governor races. House and Senate spending each topped $1 billion for the first time.
The increased spending was driven by a number of factors, including the Supreme Court's decision to allow corporate and union spending. There were also a number of candidates with very deep pockets, such as Meg Whitman's record-breaking—yet unsuccessful—$150 million bid for the California governor's seat, and Linda McMahon's $50 million run for the vacant Senate seat in Connecticut—also unsuccessful.
Broadcast TV remained the most preferred political ad medium, raking in an all-time high of $2.29 billion, and representing more than three-quarters of political ad spending.
Both cable TV and the Internet reaped more political dollars than ever before, up nearly 8 percent and 4 percent, respectively. Still, they only accounted for less than 1 percent of total political advertising.
Politicians dumped more than $100 million in eight markets, with Los Angeles topping the windfall at $337.8 million, followed by New York at $238.6 million and Philadelphia at $144 million.
The trend to spend for political advertising will continue to climb. PQ Media's preliminary forecast indicates that political media spending will hit $5.6 billion during the 2012 election—a 25 percent boost over 2010 and a 35 percent jump from the last presidential election in 2008.