It's the dog-days of summer and the Sox have lost about a hundred games in a row (estimated, roughly) so let's distract ourselves with a little fun with numbers.

Two weeks ago Natasha Korecki had an article in Politico where some party officials speculated the Illinois Governor's race could cost more than $300 million. Following that, here was my prediction on Twitter:

Obviously $300 million in spending is only achievable if the general election candidates are Rauner and Pritzker, which is by no means guaranteed. But for the purpose of this exercise let's say that they are the nominees of their respective parties.

Here's a little back-of-the-napkin for why I'm skeptical. The real question is how much will have to be spent on media buys (TV and digital) on top of everything else that will be spent (mail, production, operations, etc.) to hit $300 million? Let's try to guess at that.

Aside from Pritzker the other Democratic gubernatorial candidates have combined to spend about $1.4 million so far, let's say for argument's sake they spend another $15 million on top of that in the primary. For our general election predictions let's use Rauner's 2014 spending as a guide. In 2014 Rauner had about $6 million in production expenses, let's estimate that both Rauner and Pritzker will have about $7 million in production expenses this cycle. In 2014 Rauner directly spent about $3 million in mail plus had another $2.5 million from the Illinois Republican party for mail, for this exercise let's estimate they each spend about $6 million in mail. Let's give them each $1 million for polling, $3 million for materials (yard signs, buttons, bumper stickers, t-shirts, etc.) and $15 million for operations (operations, travel, payroll, consulting, etc.). Throw in the $9.3 million that Pritzker has already spent plus the $4 million that Rauner has already spent and you've accounted for about $94 million without even getting to media buys for the rest of the cycle yet.

 RaunerPritzkerOther Cands
Other Dem Candidates  $15.00 M
Already Spent$4.00 M$9.30 M$1.40 M
Production$7.00 M$7.00 M 
Polling$1.00 M$1.00 M 
Mail$6.00 M$6.00 M 
Materials$3.00 M$3.00 M 
Operations$15.00 M$15.00 M 
Total$36.00 M$41.30 M$16.40 M

The figures above total $93.7 million dollars, an impressive figure but still far from $300 million. The rest has to be spent on media buys between now and election day (the amount already spent on media buys and other campaign expenditures is listed above).

I don't believe anyone is currently airing TV ads, although digital ads may be ongoing. But for argument's sake let's say both Rauner and Pritzker went back up on TV the day after Labor Day (a Tuesday) and didn't come down until general election day 2018 (also a Tuesday). That is 61 weeks. In order to spend the remaining $206 million you would still have to spend another $3.4 million per week combined (or $1.7 million per week for each candidate) for every week starting this September running through election day the following fall.

For reference, let's look at Rauner's media buys from the 2014 election cycle.

WeekStart DateEnd DateBruce Rauner
Week 1208/13/1408/19/14$556,907.38
Week 1108/20/1408/26/14$702,543.41
Week 1008/27/1409/02/14$1,037,358.50
Week 909/03/1409/09/14$1,301,821.41
Week 809/10/1409/16/14$1,283,174.80
Week 709/17/1409/23/14$1,388,965.03
Week 609/24/1409/30/14$1,547,732.21
Week 510/01/1410/07/14$1,553,456.77
Week 410/08/1410/14/14$2,711,560.42
Week 310/15/1410/21/14$2,505,242.54
Week 210/22/1410/28/14$4,552,138.87
Week 110/29/1411/04/14$995,134.31

It wasn't until the final four weeks of the general election in 2014 that Rauner was spending $1.7 million per week, that is a healthy statewide buy. In order to spend $300 million on the Governor's race it isn't about spending even more money late in the cycle, that spending only has so much room to grow, the only way they can hit that target is to start spending heavily early. Another way of saying that is in order for the Governor's race spending to reach $300 million combined both Prizker and Rauner need to spend at a level that 2014 Rauner didn't reach until the final month of the election - for the final 61 weeks of this election cycle. That seems unlikely.

None of this really matters, it's all in good fun (and Malort), just a bit of an educated guess but I still want to take the under on $300 million. It will still be a ridiculously high number, 2018 will shatter all campaign spending records and has no worthy previous Illinois comparable. If it does somehow approach or surpass $300 million we will be well beyond Brewster's Millions absurdity.


© Illinois Electon Data