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« Ethics Committee Expands Rangel Investigation | Blog Home Page | Strategy Memo: A Nobel President »

With Christie Spending Limited, RGA To The Rescue

The Nielsen Company has put out a breakdown of the total number of ads purchased by the major party candidates in New Jersey and Virginia. As expected, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) has been able to vastly outspend his Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, translating to an on-air advantage of 3.5-to-1 since July.

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR (6/3 TO 9/20/09)
Corzine (D) - 4806
Christie (R) - 1393

Though New Jersey has one of the more generous matching funds programs in the country, Christie has not been able to compete with Corzine's personal wealth. In accepting matching funds, Christie faces a spending cap.

That's where the Republican Governors Association comes in. RCP asked Nielsen to pull the RGA's ad buys during the same period. The data shows that when combined with Christie's spending, the Republicans have actually been on the air with more ads than Corzine.

July: Corzine 1,908 -- Christie/RGA 1,739
August: Corzine 1,306 -- Christie/RGA 2,078
September: Corzine 1,592 -- Christie/RGA 1,402
TOTALS: Corzine 4,806 -- Christie/RGA 5,219

An important distinction: all of the ads that the RGA has launched were 15-second spots, while Corzine's have been 30-seconds and 60-seconds long. So while they may match up in numbers, Corzine has still purchased more time on the airwaves. Still, the Corzine campaign points to the data to counter the Christie camp's assertion that the governor has bought his way back into the race.

"The Christie campaign's contention that this race is tight because of advertising overlooks the fact that the RGA has been funneling millions of dollars into New Jersey since before the primary to distort the Governor's record," said Corzine campaign spokesperson Lis Smith. "The more New Jersey voters learn about Chris Christie, the more they see that he is extremely wrong when it comes to what matters for the state."

RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf said that the organization has made no secret of its attempt to support Christie this summer, given the restraints he faces through the public financing system. "We continue to be engaged because we think he can win," Schrimpf said.

He also disputed the notion of a Corzine surge, noting that any movement has been for independent candidate Chris Daggett. But on Election Day, ultimately he thinks voters will make a choice between the major party candidates.

The Democratic Governors Association is unable to advertise in the state because of coordination laws that restrict advertising on behalf of one of its members.

RCP also asked Nielsen for data on spending by Daggett. Though he made a bit of a splash with this clever ad, it has aired only 81 times.