Written by Meaghan Walsh

The New York 2022 gubernatorial race is already underway. Candidates on both the Republican and Democratic sides are starting to put out messaging before the primary election on June 28. Overall spending has reached $12M already, and with the X-Factor of former NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s presence in the race, this is sure to be an interesting election to dive deep into the spending trends for.

Republicans have hit the ground running, outspending Democrats in every New York market. Although Cuomo’s spending is excluded from Democratic calculations as he has not formally announced his candidacy, Republicans—largely businessman Harry Wilson—have spent 5 times as much as Democrats thus far. Republican advertisers have spent $10.04M, whereas Democrat advertisers have spent $1.96M overall. New York has not had a Republican Governor since George Pataki retired in 2006. However, following the very publicized resignation of former Governor Andrew Cuomo due to sexual harassment allegations, Republicans may see an opportunity to gain support in New York.

Deep Dive Spending Analysis

For both Democrats and Republicans, spending has been concentrated in the New York City metropolitan area, with over $6M dumped into the market. Other relatively hot areas include the Albany and Buffalo regions with over $1M spent thus far.

Spending Analysis By Market

Deep Dive Spending Analysis

While both Republicans and Democrats have been funneling money into NYC, Republicans are decidedly more interested in upstate markets outside of the metro region. Whereas Democrats have spent less than $150K in only 3 markets outside of NYC, Republicans have dropped over $5M into upstate markets. NYC spending is so high due to its status as one of the most expensive media markets in the country, as well as the fact that a large portion of the state’s population resides in this region. However, Republican spending in the upstate region is a logical choice given that the area leans more conservative compared to the NYC Metro area.

Deep Dive Spending Anaysis

Despite having 5 candidates in the race—including incumbent Governor Kathy Hochul—the only Democrat to place advertisements in the Democratic primary over the past year has been Congressman Thomas Suozzi. In fact, the largest Democratic spender in the primary so far is a man not officially running for the position, former Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Spending Deep Dive by Party

Deep Dive Spending Analysis

Meanwhile, with a wide field of 7 candidates running, candidates Harry Wilson and Congressman Lee Zeldin have been the top spenders on the Republican side. Wilson has dominated spending in the race, dropping $7.26M overall. When looking at national gubernatorial election spending, Wilson is the 6th largest spender overall. The Republican group Empire Results have also spent a pretty penny so far, rolling out $900K to air negative advertisements against Democrats in New York. 

Republican messaging has largely focused on being a force of change for New York. Some advertisements have also attacked the leadership of both former Governor Andrew Cuomo as well as current Governor Kathy Hochul. Specifically, Empire Results paints both Cuomo and Hochul as unethical in their most recent advertisement that began airing at the end of March. Other common topics for Republican advertisers include focusing on criminal issues—such as bail reform—as well as lowering taxes for New Yorkers.

The elephant in the room for Democrats is the presence of former Governor Andrew Cuomo in the media market. On August 10, 2021, Cuomo announced his resignation amid sexual harassment allegations. He was replaced by then Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. Currently, he is not officially running for his former position. However, he has previously stated that he is “open to all options” available to him. While he is not formally in the race, Cuomo is in the top 25 spenders nationally for gubernatorial elections. During the month of March, he was the 7th biggest spender in politics overall and the 2nd largest gubernatorial spender nationally with over $2.6M in advertisements.   

In late February of 2022, he began airing an advertisement discrediting the sexual harassment allegations made against him. More recently, in mid-March, he aired advertisements pivoting from his previous missteps to his leadership accomplishments as governor.

Cuomo’s advertisements are airing primarily in NYC with some spots in upstate regions as well. This follows the overall Democratic pattern of focusing spending in the city rather than saturating northern and western markets.

Deep Dive Spending Analysis

Going forward, as we get closer to the primary election, will continue to monitor and focus more deeply on election spending. Hochul has over $21M in her war chest already, giving her the financial support to challenge other Democrats as the primary election becomes more competitive. On the Republican side, Wilson has pledged to spend at least $12M during his campaign. Overall, we can see that this race is one to watch going forward. The election is just beginning to heat up in terms of spending, and both races will likely continue to pull massive numbers of campaign spending as we get closer to the primary election date as well as the general election in the fall.

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