Bruce Rauner is leading the Republican race for governor in one key measure: TV ad buying.
As part of a campaign that began in mid-November and is expected to end before Christmas, the wealthy former private equity investor has spent $1.5 million on television ads, blanketing the state with 633 ads representing more than five hours of 30-second commercials.
Many observers see the blitz as part of a two-part strategy: introduce Rauner to voters early in the campaign and scare off rivals with proof of his campaign’s deep pockets.
As well, by attempting to create a sense of inevitability early in the race, the Rauner campaign can send a direct message to donors about which candidate to back at this stage in the process.
Where Rauner bought ads also offers a glimpse into his campaign’s thinking:
The ad buy records also shed light on the audience Rauner is seeking. His campaign team is placing ads on programs in which audiences skew older — age 55 and above — rather than viewers ages 24 to 55 that traditional advertisers try to reach.
That strategy is in keeping with the demographic of Illinois Republican primary voters. In the 2012 GOP presidential primary in Illinois, nearly three-quarters of voters were 44 and older, network exit poll resulted showed, with a quarter of voters 65 and older.
So far, none of Rauner's three competitors in the Republican primary--state treasurer Dan Rutherford and state senators Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard--have aired TV campaign ads of their own.
The latest numbers aren’t the first time Rauner has dropped big bucks on ad buys in the campaign. In June, his campaign spent $749,205 on two ad buys in that month alone.