Add House contests to the mix, and the result can be overwhelming: during one Thursday evening news broadcast, campaign ads made up nearly half of commercial time. And while that may be typical in battleground states like Virginia, it’s not the norm here in Kansas, a typically-Republican state that hasn’t experienced a truly competitive election quite like this one in years. Roberts cruised to victory in 2008 with 60 percent of the vote, the same percentage Mitt Romney got in 2012.
This time around, both Senate campaigns consider the race up for grabs, with the latest public polling showing a statistical dead heat.
Many of those ads are coming from outside groups, with late-game money pouring in from outside the state. Pro- Orman super PAC The Committee To Elect an Independent Senate shelled out for a new round of roughly $800,000 in media buys in the state on Thursday, plus roughly $100,000 in a radio ad buy, according to FEC filings.
One such ad from the super PAC ran multiple times during a Kansas City Fox affiliate evening news broadcast Thursday night, attacking Roberts for low attendance in committee hearings. "Roberts' record: missed hearings, salary increases, not working for Kansas anymore,” the ad proclaimed just after 9 p.m.
During the following commercial break came an anti-Orman attack ad, paid for Koch-affiliated super PAC, Freedom Partners Action Fund. "A vote for Greg Orman is a vote for the Obama agenda," the spot declared. Cue pictures of President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
On Wednesday, the super PAC filed a disclosure for $580,000 on a broadcast and cable TV ad buy. In all, the group has spent more than $3 million in the race.
Outside groups have given a major assist to Roberts; such super PACs have spent nearly $10 million so far in the race, more than the roughly $6 million spent by pro-Orman groups, according to data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics. In the final full week of the campaign, pro-Orman super PACs collectively spent more than $2 million in the race.
As of Oct. 15, Roberts has raised nearly $7 million in campaign contributions, dwarfing Orman's roughly $3.5 million -- nearly half of which came from Orman himself.
So with the race running down to the wire, outside groups making their final arguments in 30-second sound-bites, sandwiched between local news anchors discussing the weather and the best kind of Halloween candy.