by Brooke Medina
Vice President of Communications, John Locke Foundation
Recent campaign spending reports found that the amount of money pouring into–and out of–PACs and candidate coffers was record breaking. According to Open Secrets, “The 2020 election [was] twice as expensive as the runner up, the 2016 election,” totaling nearly $14 billion dollars.
If you lived in North Carolina during the 2020 election, you were undoubtedly battered with unrelenting political ads assaulting you from every direction. We were a swing state, deemed a “must win” for the Trump campaign, and a state that had an incredibly important, but uncertain (until Cal Cunningham’s BBQgate and affair), Senate race. As a result, the ante was upped and the money was flowing.
Recently, NCFREE released a snapshot, comparing and contrasting top PAC spending in NC from 2010 to 2020. The near quadrupling of money spent is fascinating enough, but note that of the top seven PACs listed, five of them are undeniably left-leaning.
But despite the excessive funds Democratic hopefuls poured into our state, they had a rather lackluster election night, especially in the statewide judicial races, where Republicans won all eight open seats.
It will be interesting to see if 2020 election spending is an anomaly and things gradually begin to “denuclearize” or if 2024 ends up being another record breaker. In the post-COVID era, we’re not sure exactly what elections and voting will look like, with some positing that mail in voting is here to stay.
You can watch Anna Beavon Gravely, executive director of NCFREE, explain her organization’s interesting findings in greater detail below.