Monday, May 10, 2004

Fun With Numbers

The headline says, "More Ads Found in State Judicial Races." You can read the story here. Some advocacy group is up in arms and the story starts like this:
The number of outside interest groups trying to influence state supreme court elections by running political advertisements on television doubled from 2000 to 2002, a report released Thursday said.
Oooh, some real FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) here! Sounds ominous. There's even a scare quote a bit later on:
"No state that elects judges is safe," said Bert Brandenburg, deputy director of the coalition, which is concerned about the influence of special-interest money in state supreme court elections. This year, 29 states will hold such races.
Wow, I'm worried now!

Then comes the meat:
In its study, the Justice at Stake Campaign, a coalition of 40 groups advocating for an impartial judiciary, found that 10 groups intervened with ads in state judicial races two years ago compared to five groups in the 2000 elections.

Commercials were aired, either by the candidates or interest groups, in nine states in 2002, up from four in 2000.
To quote from Butt-head: "Uhhh...whut?" Four states had five groups producing ads in 2000. Two years later, nine states had ten groups. Go ahead and do the math. I'll wait.

Note the scare word used: "intervened." And note as well that the groups themselves arent' identified or explained in any detail. I have a feeling that's where the real story lies.

But wait! There's more!
In 2002, candidates spent $6 million on TV ads, while interest groups allotted $2.2 million. The most money by far was spent in Ohio — $3.7 million by candidates and $1.6 million from interest groups.
So, subtract out the one anomalous state (Ohio) and you learn that nine candidates spent $2.3 million, or about $256,000 each. Interest groups spent, per state, roughly $56,000.

Yeah, I'm really worried.

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