Michaud jumps ahead of Cutler’s spending in June with early TV ads

One chart makes it clear that the race for the Blaine House is warming up.

For the first time since the start of the campaign, Democrat Mike Michaud outspent independent Eliot Cutler in June. Incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s campaign spending also rose in that month, but continues at a much slower pace than his challengers.

Through June, the last full month of expenditure reporting, the three leading candidates together have spent more than $2.6 million. The LePage campaign’s spending makes up about 11 percent, or $294,245, of that.

Cutler has spent the most — more than $1.4 million — when Michaud’s campaign had spent about $915,407 through June.

The bump in the Michaud campaign’s spending in that month was due to early television ads, a category where the Cutler camp had no expenses. The first of Michaud’s ads hit the airwaves yesterday.

The expenditure reports from the campaigns give deeper insights into where each campaign is putting their efforts, as well. The campaigns all spent at least a third of their war chests on campaign consultants and at least 20 percent of total spending on staff, leaving distinctions to be found elsewhere.

Below, here’s a look at each campaign’s spending by category for June and beyond. That is, the whole campaign.

[Prepare to walk through]

Using the drop-down menu in the above interactive chart, you can select any one or multiple spending categories by which to compare each candidate on spending types from the start of the campaign through June 2014.

For example, let’s take a look at a categories of Web services, which includes spending with Facebook and Google, postage, TV ads, phone banks and print media ads (that is, who’s trying to get the word out and where).

LePage, as the incumbent, clearly has a “brand awareness” advantage specific to this race. Both the campaign and the party have made it clear their message on his campaign will be that his obligations as governor come first.

That’s how GOP Communications Director David Sorensen crafted the argument that Michaud should take the stage to debate Cutler whenever he can — the governor, on the other hand, likely has something better to do (read Mario Moretto’s Monday story laying out why the candidates are jumping at or away from the opportunity to debate).

Sorensen said in a written statement Monday:

LePage is working hard to reform state government and bring jobs to Maine while Congressman Michaud has the luxury of campaigning all day this fall. There’s no reason for Michaud to run away from Cutler’s challenge.

Naturally, the expenditure reports also yield some business and economic insights as well (nerd alert!). That is: who’s getting the biggest haul heading into the fall.

Here are the top “payees” ranked by the total amount they’ve received so far (and the candidate they received that money from). Note that individual campaign staffers are listed with last names first. It’s worth noting here that Ted O’Meara, Cutler’s campaign manager, works for Garrand. Hover over a segment of each bar to see more information about that vendor, like where they are located (but we’ll get to geography in more detail later).

As detailed in the second chart, candidates have spent the most on consultants and staff, reflected above. And if you really want to get snoopy, you can also manipulate the above chart, searching for specific expenditure types to see who was the top-grossing vendor in that category.

Now, for the fun maps. While the economy is a leading campaign topic, let’s take a look at the areas of the state (and who in those areas) that are getting a little taste from each campaign. Use the “candidate selector” to filter the view for each candidate.

Portland, unsurprisingly, leads the list for recipients of campaign cash, but the reach of each campaign’s spending shows who’s had the widest reach. I’ll note, however, the spending so far is perhaps more an indicator of where candidates are campaigning rather than economic impact.

That is, Cutler has made a lot of small expenditures in the northernmost parts of the state, delving into Michaud’s turf. While there are many small expenditures, Cutler’s spending has touched more zip codes in the state than any other candidate so far.

LePage’s spending has mostly been in Portland. In Waterville, it includes about $18,432 paid to his daughter Lauren for working on his campaign.

Looking outside of the state, here’s a similar view showing which states (and vendors) have gotten the most out of the three campaigns.

For all three candidates, vendors in Washington D.C. are the top recipients of their campaign cash.

The other side of this spending equation, covered in this earlier post, is how much each candidate has on hand. By a July 15 deadline, the Michaud campaign had just more than $1 million and LePage’s had about $914,000. Cutler had about $530,822, according to contribution and expenditure reports filed by a midnight deadline.

And, while there are no metrics in the data for mouths fed, we do know how much each campaign has spent so far on food. So, prospective campaign volunteers, be aware.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.