Las Vegas Tops Political TV Ad Filings


Of the 50 TV advertising markets where stations have been putting political ad files online since Aug. 2, Las Vegas has the most disclosures on Political Ad Sleuth, with more than 2,300 filings. If you just look at Senate races, though, the No. 1 spot goes to Pennsylvania, which has Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D) facing challenger Tom Smith.

Political Ad Sleuth, a project of the Sunlight Foundation and Free Press, is just one week old and already the amount of political ad filings on TV are hitting record numbers. Be sure to check out how your local media market ranks.


chart of political ad files in Political Ad Sleuth

Here how things stand among markets with the most ads in just the past seven days:

  1. Las Vegas, NV — 672 files
  2. Orlando, FL — 306 files
  3. Pittsburgh, PA — 175 files
  4. West Palm Beach, FL — 169 files
  5. Milwaukee, WI — 159 files
  6. Sacramento, CA — 157 files
  7. Cincinnati, OH — 150 files
  8. Norfolk, VA — 149 files
  9. Cleveland, OH — 138 files
  10. Hartford & New Haven, CT – 131 files

Note: At this point our database measures activity in a marketplace; the numbers don’t necessarily represent just ad buys. Some of the filings may represent revisions or cancellations of previous orders or — more intriguingly — forms that identify the principals behind some of the shadowy committees that can now legally dump millions into contests without registering with the Federal Election Commission.

Political Ad Sleuth is a searchable database of presidential, congressional and issue ad filings in top U.S. media markets and provides real-time data on where political ads are airing and who is paying for them. You can use the advance search feature on Political Ad Sleuth to search within a particular time frame and see where a campaign or issue group bought their ads, as well as download the bulk data.

However, because we primarily relay on FCC data, Political Ad Sleuth is not comprehensive and misses a lot of information from markets No. 51 and below. That means all of Iowa and most of Wisconsin — two battleground states — go undisclosed, as well as Spanish-language stations. Want to help correct that? Just let us know, and we’ll get you set up to find your local ad files and add them to our database.