STEVE LeBLANC, Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts voters were pelted with more television ads during the just-completed primary than during the same period four years ago — a media blitz that’s expected to surge in the weeks leading up to the November general election.
As of Sept. 8, the day before the primary, nearly $7.1 million had been spent buying television time for political ads. That’s up from the nearly $4.3 million spent during the primary cycle four years ago according to a new report issued Wednesday by the Center for Public Integrity.
That spending translated into broadcasting political ads more than 8,200 separate times this primary season, a 61 percent increase compared to 2010, when political ads popped up on television screens more than 5,100 times.
Unlike 2010, the 2014 primary featured a hotly contested gubernatorial primary — the three-way Democratic contest that accounted for half the primary spending on TV ads.
The report found that of the five Democratic and Republican candidates for governor, Democrat Martha Coakley was the major target of primary ads.
Those ads included television spots run by two super PACs supporting Republican Charlie Baker and Democrat Steve Grossman. The political action committees spent a combined $786,400 on ads targeting Coakley during the primary.
Of the total $3.5 million spent on television ads in the gubernatorial primary, nearly a third — about $1.3 million — was spent by the Commonwealth Future Independent Expenditure PAC, a super PAC supporting Baker, on pro-Baker and anti-Coakley ads.
Coakley and Baker face each other in the Nov. 4 general election.
The report also showed Democrat Warren Tolman spent $1.2 million on television ads in his primary bid for attorney general, compared to the $542,000 spent by fellow Democrat Maura Healey.
Despite the fact that Tolman’s ads ran three times as often — nearly 1,600 times compared to Healey’s ads which ran more than 500 times — Healey beat Tolman by a hefty margin. She’ll face Republican John Miller in November.
The report also found that of the $1.6 million spent on television ads in the three-way Democratic primary for state treasurer the most — more than $900,000 — was spent by the ultimate winner, Deb Goldberg. She’ll face Republican Michael Heffernan.
Overall, the report found that of the nearly $7.1 million spent on television ads during the primary, about $5.4 million came out of the campaign accounts of candidates while the remaining $1.7 million came from outside groups.
The report also found that the spending in Massachusetts put the state 10th overall in the country, with Pennsylvania topping the list with $37.8 million spent through Sept. 8, the day before the final primaries in the country, including Massachusetts’s primary.
With the primary over, spending on television ads — particularly by outside groups — is already soaring in Massachusetts.
One factor feeding the spending is the absence of a “people’s pledge” similar to the one signed by Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown during the 2012 U.S. Senate race that largely succeeded in keeping ads by outside groups off television, radio and the Internet.
STEVE LeBLANC, Associated Press