ELECTION 2020

Colorado money tracker: A look at the candidates and campaigns spending to influence the 2020 vote

Who's behind that TV ad or mailer? We scoured the records and found the top spenders behind all those political messages

UPDATED: OCT. 22 2020 10:38 A.M.

The majority of the money spent in a political campaign is aimed at persuading voters to pick a certain candidate and turnout to vote.

The tools of the trade are familiar: television commercials, glossy mailers, yard signs, flashy digital ads, text messages, phone calls and more.

What is less visible: The entities spending the money to influence voters and the donors backing the efforts.

To help voters get a better sense of who is trying to influence them, The Colorado Sun’s campaign money tracker breaks it down.

  • Find the biggest spenders in the top races in Colorado (▶ click here)
  • A sortable database of the sponsors of TV ads in the U.S. Senate race and a drop down menu describing the groups behind the spending. (▶ click here)
  • A searchable database of mailers from Colorado candidates or campaigns with drop down menus showing images, the message and details about the sender. (▶ click here)
  • A look at how much TV advertising has been purchased in Colorado markets in all races spending by date (▶ click here)

The campaign money tracker created by The Sun draws information from TV ad contracts filed with the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Election Commission’s independent spending data and mailers shared with Follow the Message to give voters an idea of what the money is being spent on and by whom.

The TV ad spending is incomplete because not all stations file contracts immediately, and they aren’t required to file contracts by state-level outside groups, such as issue committees or super PACs airing ads about legislative candidates. It includes typical broadcast stations as well as spending that goes through major cable companies in Denver, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction and Durango. It is often the only way to track political spending by nonprofit groups in national contests.

See something we are missing? Drop us a note or send tips to johnfrank@coloradosun.com.


The top spenders in Colorado races

 

U.S. Senate Race

A look at the top five outside spenders, based on FEC campaign finance reports

Through Nov. 1, 2020
Source: FEC

TV ad spending in U.S. Senate race

The top five committees spending on TV ads, based on ad contracts filed with the FCC.

Through Oct. 30, 2020

TV ad spending in the 3rd District

The top five spenders on TV ads in the 3rd Congressional District, based on FCC contracts

Through Oct. 30, 2020


Who is spending money in Colorado’s elections?

The organizations spending money go well beyond the candidate’s campaigns. And often the names of the super PACs and nonprofits make it hard to know who they represent.

To get a better sense of the interests behind each, type in a group’s name below. Or click each entry to learn more about the group.

Group
Affiliation
Type
18th JD Fund
Democratic
Super PAC
Alaska Wilderness League
Environmental group/Democratic
Dark money nonprofit
America First Policies
Conservative/Republican
Dark money nonprofit
American Crossroads
Republican
Super PAC
American Dream Alliance
Nonpartisan
Super PAC
American Energy Action Colorado
Nonpartisan
Super PAC
American Federation of Teachers
Union/Democratic
Labor union
American Postal Workers
Union/Democratic
Labor union
American Workers for Progress
Democratic
Dark money nonprofit
Americans For Prosperity Action, Inc.(AFP Action)
Republican
Super PAC
Assuring Quality Healthcare Access For Colorado
Nonpartisan
Super PAC
Better Jobs Coalition
Republican
Super PAC
Better Leaders, Better Colorado
Democratic
Super PAC
Better Schools For A Stronger Colorado
Nonpartisan
Super PAC
Blueflower Action
Democratic
Super PAC

TV ad spending in U.S. Senate race

A look at who is behind the expensive TV ads in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race featuring Republican incumbent Cory Gardner and Democratic rival John Hickenlooper, the former governor

Note: Click any line to learn more about the groups behind the messages and where they get their money, as well as their political affiliation and total spending to date. Click a column heading to sort by that column.

Party
Total Spent
Group
Race/Issue
Subject
Market
Start
End
R
$11,928
NRSC
U.S. Senate
Cory Gardner
Denver
9/9/2020
9/15/2020
R
$51,960
NRSC
U.S. Senate
Cory Gardner
Denver
9/9/2020
9/22/2020
R
$98,800
NRSC
U.S. Senate
Cory Gardner
Denver
9/9/2020
9/22/2020
R
$42,300
NRSC
U.S. Senate
Cory Gardner
Denver
9/9/2020
9/22/2020
R
$46,475
Senate Leadership Fund
U.S. Senate
John Hickenlooper
Denver
9/9/2020
9/14/2020
D
$14,042
Senate Majority PAC
U.S. Senate
Cory Gardner
Colorado Springs
9/8/2020
9/14/2020
R
$57,316
Senate Leadership Fund
U.S. Senate
John Hickenlooper
Denver
9/8/2020
9/14/2020
D
$64,387
Senate Majority PAC
U.S. Senate
Cory Gardner
Denver
9/8/2020
9/14/2020
R
$17,465
Senate Leadership Fund
U.S. Senate
John Hickenlooper
Grand Junction
9/8/2020
9/14/2020
D
$52,615
Senate Majority PAC
U.S. Senate
Cory Gardner
Denver
9/8/2020
9/14/2020
D
$13,660
Senate Majority PAC
U.S. Senate
Cory Gardner
Grand Junction
9/8/2020
9/14/2020
R
$15,935
Senate Leadership Fund
U.S. Senate
John Hickenlooper
Colorado Springs
9/8/2020
9/14/2020
R
$38,760
Senate Leadership Fund
U.S. Senate
John Hickenlooper
Denver
9/8/2020
9/14/2020
D
$11,385
Senate Majority PAC
U.S. Senate
Cory Gardner
Colorado Springs
9/8/2020
9/14/2020
R
$29,870
Senate Leadership Fund
U.S. Senate
John Hickenlooper
Colorado Springs
9/8/2020
9/14/2020

Through Oct. 30, 2020


Who’s behind that campaign mailer?

When you get a glossy flyer in the mail it can be difficult to know who sent it and their political allegiances. We looked at who is behind them using the Follow the Message database, which collects mailers received by voters from across the state.

Note: Click any table entry to see an image (if available) and learn details about the campaign behind the advertisement. Click a column heading to sort by that column.

Race
Type
Subject
Name
Advertiser
mailer
Dems on Hick 10/27
Colorado Democratic Party
mailer
Dems on Gardner 10/24
Colorado Democratic Party
mailer
National Popular Vote 10/24
Colorado Opportunity foundation
mailer
National Popular Vote 10/24 2
Colorado Opportunity foundation
mailer
National Popular Vote 10/23
Colorado Opportunity foundation
mailer
CO Rising on tax issues 10/23
Colorado Rising State Action
mailer
No on 116, 117; 10/23
Protect Colorado's Recovery
U.S. Senate
mailer
Andrew Romanoff
Dems on Hickenlooper 10/22
Colorado Democratic Party
Senate District 27
mailer
Suzanne Staiert
Dems on Biden 10/22
Colorado Democratic Party
mailer
Dems on Gardner 10/22
Colorado Democratic Party
mailer
Yes on B 10/22
Yes on Amendment B
mailer
CCAG on Dickerson 10/21
Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government
mailer
Leading CO on Priola 10/21
Leading Colorado Forward
mailer
National Popular Vote 10/21
Colorado Opportunity foundation
President
mailer
Michael Bloomberg
Dems on Gardner 10/20
Colorado Democratic Party

Through Oct. 25, 2020


Spending on TV ads in Colorado

The 2020 election is bringing a flood of political TV ads to screens in Colorado. Candidates and other political groups typically buy ads for a week at a time, often starting on Tuesdays. Here’s a look at how it built as the election draws near.

Note: Scroll over the chart to see a day-by-day breakdown of how many new TV ads started.

The number of new TV ad starts purchased in Colorado.

Through Oct. 30, 2020
Source: FCC