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Karrin Taylor Robson’s TV ad blitz intensifies as Arizona's early voting begins

Wealthy developer Karrin Taylor Robson has been pouring money into television advertising for months in her quest to win the Republican nomination for governor, leaning on her cash advantage to cut into former TV news anchor Kari Lake’s large lead.

The strategy appears to be finding some success, according to recent polling, and Robson’s campaign has ramped up its spending on TV ads as early ballots landed in mailboxes across the state. 

The Arizona Mirror analyzed ad spending by Arizona’s gubernatorial candidates to see how they are trying to persuade voters in the Grand Canyon State to choose them in one of the most watched primary elections in the country.

Early voting for the primary began July 6 and candidates. Robson, who has spent about $8 million on television ads since January, has far outpaced her opponents as she poured her own money into her campaign. 

For example, in the week of July 10, Robson purchased roughly $330,000 in advertising time on broadcast television — mostly during primetime shows — according to records published by local television stations. That dwarfs the $50,000 or so of airtime that Lake reserved, much of which was during cheaper daytime programming. 

Lake has been the heavy favorite in the race for months, and early polling showed her with a roughly 20-point advantage over Robson. But things have changed in recent months for Robson: She has spent heavily to make her pitch to voters, she has gone on the offensive against Lake, GOP gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon dropped out and backed her, and Gov. Doug Ducey endorsed her. 

In the latest public polling in the race, conducted by Phoenix political consulting firm Highground, Lake’s lead in the race has been slashed from more than 20 percentage points to less than 4 points. A poll the firm conducted in the week before early voting began showed Lake leading 39% to Robson’s 35.3% — a statistical dead heat that was within the poll’s margin of error.

Highground President and CEO Chuck Coughlin said that Lake may need to build beyond her base of loyal Trump supporters as Robson leans into Salmon supporters, undecided and unaffiliated voters. 

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Robson also has outpaced her opponents by a wide margin on digital spending. In the week of July 3, which includes the start of early voting, Robson spent $6,097 on Facebook ads while Lake spent $3,190. 

Robson is also paying to air her ads on YouTube. Records from Google, which owns YouTube, show her campaign has spent $173,000 to advertise on the platform, including video and banner ads. Lake, meanwhile, has spent just $6,000 on Google banner ads. Longshot candidate Paola Tulliani-Zen has spent $6,200 on YouTube ad video placements, including one that was placed in Marion County, Ark.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.


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