As the heated Arizona gubernatorial campaign between Trump-endorsed Kari Lake and Democratic Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs continues, Lake is pulling ahead with spending related to her campaign. Through a funding maneuver, Republicans adjusted their TV ad-buying strategy for better purchasing power, more than doubling the number of spots obtained by Democrats. At the same time, independent expenditures (IEs) in the race greatly favor Lake over Hobbs by over four to one.
Arizona political consultant Jason Rose told The Arizona Sun Times, “Lake is having a moment, if ever so slight as indicated in recent polls. Strength and authenticity are aiding her contrast with Hobbs just as they aided Reagan, Scott Walker and Trump, among others facing similar races. Money still very much matters in politics as Hobbs’ narrow lead at the onset of the general election has been supplanted by Lake’s, in part due to the weight of these advertising spends. ”
The Republican Governors Association (RGA) has spent over $4 million on ads attacking Hobbs. That strategy is shifting, as the RGA has decided to coordinate with the Yuma Republican Party in order to get more out of its money. Since candidates and their local political parties get better airtime rates than outside groups, the RGA will fund the Yuma GOP $6.5 million to buy a total of $7.1 million in ads through Election Day on November 8. State law allows political parties to coordinate with candidates, not out-of-state independent expenditure organizations. The first ad attacked Hobbs on border security and the second ad on taxes and spending.
The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) has spent $4 million on ads for Hobbs to date, but its future spending is dropping. The DGA transferred only $1.5 million to the Arizona Democratic Party to run ads at the discount rate favoring Hobbs.
RGA spokesman Will Reinart said in regard to the discrepancy in spending between the two groups, “The DGA looked at Katie Hobbs’ horrible record on immigration and a litany of personal scandals and made the wise decision not to match the spending supporting Kari Lake in the state.”
The Hobbs campaign said they and the Democratic party have spent a combined $6.5 million on TV, cable, and digital ads since the August primary. The Arizona Democratic Party bought $4.4 million worth of airtime, but hasn’t said how much of it will be spent on the gubernatorial race.
In August, Axios pointed out that even though the RGA was spending over twice as much as the Democrats on ads at that time, $10.6 million, they ended up with only about the same benefit of “gross ratings points” with ads due to the poorer rate given RGA. Now, with the new maneuvering of money through the Yuma GOP instead, Lake is at a significant advantage.
The candidates themselves are buying ads too, but in smaller amounts. Lake’s campaign is spending $250,000 over the next two weeks. She just launched her first ad of the general election, featuring her “Origin Story.” Hobbs’ latest ad cost over $1 million and is funded by the Arizona Democratic Party.
Lake is most significantly surpassing Hobbs in total spending due to support from IEs. So far, according to the Arizona secretary of state’s website, which is updated to within the last few days, IEs have spent well over three times as much money attacking Hobbs as they have Lake – $5,085,082.07 against Hobbs versus $1,300,927.18 against Lake. IEs have spent almost five times as much money promoting Lake as they have promoting Hobbs – $1,752,407.53 versus $342.375.95.
Hobbs had an advantage of having no significant opponent in the primary, making it easier to raise money than Lake due to Lake’s primary opponents peeling away support from Republican donors. Hobbs also had an advantage with spending, having only needed to fend off weak primary opponents. Lake’s primary opponent Karrin Taylor Robson spent over $18 million on the race.
But despite Hobbs’ advantages, she raised barely over half a million more than Lake prior to the general election, and she spent almost a half a million more during that period. Hobbs raised $4,433,362.04 and spent $3,945,506.47, while Lake raised $3,835,534.29 and spent $3,565,381.32.
Most recent polls show Lake ahead of Hobbs. Only two polls show Hobbs ahead of Lake, by just a point, and they were both commissioned by organizations associated with left-leaning interests: USA Today and The Arizona Republic commissioned one and the AARP commissioned the other. In contrast, a Sept. 16 poll by the Trafalgar Group, which is associated with Republicans, shows Lake ahead by four points.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Kari Lake” by Kari Lake. Photo “Katie Hobbs” by Katie Hobbs. Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Wars. CC BY-SA 3.0.