Florida politicians just spent $27 million more on TV ads, right after Hurricane Michael struck

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Kevin Guaranta carries an American flag he found as he walks on the foundations of what were homes in the wake of Hurricane Michael on October 12 in Mexico Beach, Florida.
Kevin Guaranta carries an American flag he found as he walks on the foundations of what were homes in the wake of Hurricane Michael on October 12 in Mexico Beach, Florida. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The public narrative in the wake of Hurricane Michael is that Florida politicians are in public-servant mode, doing everything they can to help the victims of the powerful storm that just destroyed parts of their state.

The private narrative is that, well, politicians are still politicians—and this is midterm-election season, so for god's sake, stay focused on what really matters: getting elected or reelected.

On Thursday, just a day after Hurricane Michael made landfall, Florida's gubernatorial candidates and their parties added a collective 20 percent—nearly $27 million—in TV ad buys to their campaign-ad schedules, according to Ad Age Datacenter, which parsed raw data from Kantar Media's CMAG (Campaign Media Analysis Group).

Yes, at the moment countless Floridians are still without power and some don't even have homes anymore in which to watch campaign ads. But with Election Day rapidly approach, if you've got money to spend—and Florida politicians seems to be awash in cash at the moment—you better spend it now while there's still TV ad inventory left to buy.

The $27 million spend figure covers advance bookings of broadcast TV, local/regional cable and satellite TV as well as Spanish-language local TV through Election Day. In recent weeks, Ad Age Datacenter has been tracking combined totals for TV and radio buys, but the latest surge in spending went overwhelming to TV advertising.

To date, past spending and advance TV and radio spending for both major parties in the Florida governor's race has hit $159 million. That figure includes spending by the campaigns of Republican gubernatorial nominee Rick DeSantis and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum as well as groups (e.g., PACs) supporting them—and to a lesser extent spending by and for candidates from both parties that ultimately dropped out when DeSantis and Gillum won their respective primaries. Meanwhile, cumulative and advance TV-radio spending for the U.S. Senate seat in Florida that's up for grabs has hit $140.5 million.

Now, take a big breath and try to remain calm, because the math gets even more unsettling: The combined TV-radio ad spending for both offices is, as of this writing, just a hair under $300 million—again, per Ad Age Datacenter's tally as of Friday morning.

Can you imagine if that kind of money could be spent rebuilding Florida instead of on ads for politicians mostly devoted to tearing each other apart?

Stay tuned to AdAge.com for more deep dives into the spending behind other key midterm races. Ad Age Datacenter (specifically Kevin Brown, Bradley Johnson and Catherine Wolf) partnered with Kantar Media's CMAG (Campaign Media Analysis Group) for this report.

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