So far, the seven Republicans vying for their party’s nomination for governor have spent nearly $1.3 million on advertising, with more than half of that coming from businessman Jeff Burningham.
According to figures provided to UtahPolicy.com from Advertising Analytics, a firm that tracks political ad spending, the Republican candidates have dropped $1,289,279 on advertising this cycle. Burningham’s campaign has spent $672,540 overall, which is 52% of all the ad spend from the candidates in the race.
Burningham’s spending is more than double his nearest opponent, Greg Hughes, has put out for advertising in the race.
For all of his spending, Burningham is not moving the needle in the polls. According to the latest UtahPolicy.com/KUTV 2News survey from Y2 Analytics, Burningham sits in 4th place, with just 5 percent support among likely Republican primary voters. His level of support has not changed from a December 2019 survey which showed him with 5 percent.
That stagnation is not for a lack of effort. Burningham has been peppering the airwaves with television ads first focusing on the aborted tax reform effort and now the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Burningham spent the majority of his budget on TV advertising, putting $424,795 toward broadcast. He dropped another $71,677 on cable and $106,062 on radio ads. $57,491 of his spending went to digital.
Greg Hughes has spent the second-most on advertising so far in the race, with $293,695. Almost half of that $137,775 has gone toward ads on broadcast television stations. Hughes spent most of all candidates on cable TV, with $86,200 going towards that medium.
Hughes’ ads have reaped benefits for his name-ID among voters. He jumped more than 10 percentage points from December to now in our polling.
Spencer Cox put $192,588 toward advertising so far this cycle. Most of his spending, $154,278, has been on digital ads.
Jon Huntsman has spent a relatively modest $110,482 on advertising, with the bulk of that ($69,722) going toward cable TV.
Only Jan Garbett’s campaign did not have any measurable spending on advertising.
Thomas Wright and Aimee Winder Newton recently launched their first advertising campaigns, which accounts for the paltry numbers reported by Advertising Analytics.
The advertising spending highlights the varying strategies campaigns are taking toward building their name ID.
Frontrunners Cox and Huntsman have spent relatively little in the race as they already enjoy high name ID among Utahns. However, Burningham has had to pour gobs of money into ads in order to boost his public profile as he was a relatively unknown businessman when he jumped into the race last year. Burningham was attempting to qualify for the ballot through the petition route until the coronavirus pandemic derailed that effort. Now, he’s hoping to secure a spot through the upcoming GOP convention.
Along with Burningham, Hughes and Winder Newton are also hoping to advance to the June primary election through the upcoming GOP state convention.
Wright just started his advertising campaign as he’s focused on the upcoming June primary election. He spent his early money on signature gathering instead of advertising to make sure he secured a spot on that ballot. After all, advertising doesn’t do you any good if you are eliminated from the race prior to voters casting their ballots. Cox and Huntsman also qualified for the primary ballot through the signature-gathering route.