Written by Joshua Getz

Hundreds of candidates are vying for races in New York City’s primary elections taking place on June 22nd. In the city’s Mayoral race, we have recorded $56.46M in advertising spending by campaigns and issue groups across broadcast, satellite, cable, radio, and digital media. In a race still considered a tossup, seven candidates have seen over $4M spent on their behalf, either by their own campaigns or PACs and other issue groups. While the Mayoral race may attract the most attention, the New York City Comptroller, Manhattan District Attorney, and the Borough Presidential primaries have also seen significant advertising spending.

Spending Toplines

Of the $56.46M spent in the Mayoral race to date, 57 percent of spending has come from candidates while the other $24.46M has been spent by issue groups.  Seven weeks ago, the total spend on advertisements for the Mayoral primary was $9.92M. We noticed a drastic increase in spending around May 6th, which coincided with Andrew Yang’s first broadcast advertising spend. Mr. Yang, the former Presidential candidate and one-time poll leader in this primary, served as a catalyst for the rest of the field.

Overall New York Mayoral Spending Trends

According to a recent  Marist poll, Eric Adams is leading the Mayoral primary with 24 percent support. Kathryn Garcia is second, polling at 17 percent, followed by Maya Wiley at 15 percent. Mr. Adams, the current Brooklyn Borough President, while not the largest individual spender, has seen the most money spent on his behalf with $5.96M from issue groups and $5.19M from his campaign. Notably, most of that non-campaign money has come from Strong Leadership NYC, a Super PAC that has spent $5.5M in his support. Shaun Donovan and Ray McGuire have also received substantial support from issue groups, each benefiting from over $4.5M in issue group spending. Scott Stringer, who has not been the competitive candidate many thought he would be, in part due to sexual misconduct allegations, has spent the most money of any candidate at $6.11M.

Spending for Each Candidate

Despite being seventh in combined issue group and candidate spending, Ms. Garcia, the former head of the New York City Sanitation Department, is only polling seven points below Mr. Adams and could prove to be a legitimate threat to his candidacy. Due to the new Ranked-Choice Voting system for New York City local elections, voters have an opportunity to select their top five ranked choices for the Mayoral primary. According to the Marist poll, Mr. Adams would defeat Ms. Garcia after 12 rounds.

While there has been significant spending in the Mayoral race, other races in New York City have also seen substantial advertising spending. We have recorded a total of $19.84M across the New York City Comptroller, Manhattan District Attorney, and the five Borough Presidential primaries. Five different candidates have spent over $1M in the Comptroller primary, as the total expenditure of the election nears $11M. In the Manhattan District Attorney primary, Tali Farhadian Weinstein’s campaign has spent 70 percent of the total $6.5M in advertising spending. A recent Data For Progress poll suggests she has a slim lead over Alvin Bragg, whose campaign has spent $610K compared to Ms. Farhadian Weinstein’s $4.6M.

New York City Races Spending Totals

Between the Mayoral, Comptroller, Manhattan District Attorney, and Borough Presidential primaries, we have tracked $76.3M. Of that total, 64 percent has been spent on broadcast while 31 percent has been spent on cable advertisements. Digital and radio advertisements have made up the remaining 5 percent. New York City is one of the most expensive markets in which to run advertisements in the country, which may explain why the spending disparity between television and radio and digital advertising is so high. Between May 2 and June 22, the average 30 second political advertisement on broadcast cost $1,684 in New York City while the average national cost excluding the city was $507.

Spending Breakout by Media Type

In these high-profile primary elections, campaigns and issue groups highly prioritized their advertisement expenditure. Since May 6th, the Mayoral primary has experienced a 466 percent increase in total political ad spending.  It will be interesting to see if the outcomes of Tuesday’s primary elections are influenced by this sudden increase in advertising spending throughout the city.

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