WASHINGTON — Democrat Doug Jones is outspending embattled Republican Roy Moore by nearly 10 to one in Alabama’s closely watched Senate race, but his message on the airwaves over the past three weeks hasn’t completely focused on the sexual misconduct scandal that has enveloped Moore.
According to the ad-tracking group Advertising Analytics LLC, Jones’ campaign has shoveled $5.6 million into television and radio ads during the general election, compared to about $600,000 by Moore’s team. That 10-to-1 advantage for Jones is almost unchanged from two weeks ago.
The outside group Highway 31 has contributed another $512,000 to pro-Jones ads during the general election, while Proven Conservative PAC has backed Moore with about $40,000 in TV spending.
But while media coverage of the race has been almost entirely focused on Moore’s alleged pursuit of underage girls decades ago, the narrative from both campaigns over the airwaves has been more mixed.
Since Nov. 9, when The Washington Post first reported the accusations against Moore, Jones’ major ad campaigns have balanced messages about Moore’s behavior with ones touting Jones’ ability to appeal across party lines in the heavily Republican state.
For example, in the week after the scandal broke, a Jones ad that obliquely referred to “the story” about Moore’s conduct ran about 1,560 times on Alabama airwaves. But in the same period of time, a Jones campaign ad touting the “reality check” the centrist Democrat would give to both political parties aired almost exactly the same number of times.
During Thanksgiving week, the Jones campaign launched a harder-hitting commercial that cited Republican criticism of Moore’s “disturbing actions” and that aired about 1,400 times throughout the state. But the same week also saw about 1,500 airings of an upbeat pro-Jones ad emphasizing his past support from popular Republican politicians and his goal to “rise above the politics” in Washington.
Those four spots combine for more than 6,000 airings of pro-Jones campaign ads since the scandal broke, compared to about 1,100 total airings of Moore’s frequently seen commercials.