Where and when politicians run ads in Connecticut

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As might be expected, most of the political television advertising purchased in Connecticut is placed with Hartford stations.

Starting in late 2012, the Federal Communications Commission began requiring some broadcasters to post political ad purchases online. In the second half of 2014, the requirement was expanded to all stations. The data includes total cost, what time and how often the advertisements ran, and the chief members of the organization purchasing the ad time.

However, it’s not the easiest dataset to use, and there are extra considerations when analyzing it.

The forms are often filled out by hand or are scanned into PDFs before uploading, which makes it difficult to analyze the data. Each station might follow a different format in filling out the forms.

Thanks to the Sunlight Foundation, a website called Political Ad Sleuth hosts the scraped FCC documents, and volunteers parse the documents to update the data set.

It’s an arduous process but an important one because it offers insight into when, where, and how much money is being spent to influence votes through advertising. They’re looking for volunteers if you want to help.

Trend CT dug through the Connecticut-related data. Sometimes campaigns do take out political ads on television stations based in New York to reach residents in southwestern Connecticut. Those stations are not included in this analysis.

It should be noted that the data is incomplete, and some filings might not represent ad buys. Each filing also might represent an order for multiple runs of a single ad. This is just a cursory snapshot using the data currently available.

Almost all the political ads ran during the 2012 and 2014 election campaigns.

According to the figures, presidential candidates tend to skip Connecticut when they buy advertising since it hasn’t been considered a battleground state in recent years.

Instead, ads for state offices, such as governor or attorney general; Congressional candidates; and non-candidate issues, like gun control, have made up the bulk of purchases in Connecticut since 2012.

Most of these ads ran on WFSB, Channel 3, based in Hartford.

WCCT in Waterbury got ad filings during races for state offices and the U.S. House but none for the U.S. Senate.

The U.S. Senate race in 2012 generated a large number of ads from Republican candidate Linda McMahon and committees supporting her. McMahon did not win despite placing the most ads. A similar pattern was repeated in the 2014 gubernatorial race.

Super PACs such as Patriot Majority and Government Integrity Fund set up many ad filings at local television stations.

Andrew Roraback campaigned for Connecticut’s 5th congressional district seat in Congress in 2012 but lost to Elizabeth Esty.

In 2014, Esty faced off against Mark Greenberg for the 5th congressional seat. This time she increased her ad filings from 121 in 2012 to 570 in 2014.

Explore the table below to see what TV stations groups or candidates filed political ads on.

What do you think?