Ad Money Increases In Tighter Senate Race

Oct 16, 2014

A political action committee is committing more money to the US Senate race in South Dakota. A PAC known as Mayday is adding $250,000 to its earlier pledge of $1 million.

The money is going to media time to support Democrat Rick Weiland. He faces Independent Larry Pressler, Republican Mike Rounds, and Independent Gordon Howie in the race for United States Senate. One political scientist says he expects more national attention as poll numbers show a close competition.

With two and a half weeks until the November election, political ads are popping up on local television channels. More center on the race for US Senate than any other statewide campaign, and only some of the ads are sponsored by candidates in the running.

Northern State University political science professor Jon Schaff says groups from multiple affiliations are buying air time because they no longer see the state’s US Senate campaign as a Republican guarantee.

"There’s a perception that the race is close, that it’s close that some influx of money might tip the race one way or the other," Schaff says. "That’s also related to other races, that some races are now considered settled one way or the other, and money is leaving those states and coming to our state."

Schaff says media spots in South Dakota are inexpensive compared to other parts of the country. He says that allows outside organizations to stretch their dollars and buy more airtime. Schaff says that has advantages for PACs.

"There’s two things. One is obviously repetition is part of the point. When you see something over and over, it tends to stick into your head. The second thing is that negative advertising works, especially negative advertising attached to policy substance," Schaff says.

Not all of the ads from outside groups are attacks on particular candidates; some air in support of specific Senate hopefuls.