The estimated $12.1 million spent this year went to buy ads in 10 states. Political parties and outside groups have spent roughly $4.5 million on ads for the general election alone. The remaining amount comes from candidates and their committees.
Academics and advocates warn that outside spending may be distorting judicial rulings. A recent review of roughly 3,000 decisions from 2008 to 2013 found that an increase in the number of TV ads aired during a supreme court election was correlated with an increase in rulings against criminal defendants. Academics suspect that finding is the result of fear from justices that TV ads will use their decision to portray them as “soft on crime.”