Senate TV spending crosses $750M mark

Candidates running for U.S. Senate seats and their outside backers have spent more than three-quarters of a billion dollars on television advertisements this year, a mark of the hard-fought battle for control of the chamber.

In total, candidates and groups have spent $754 million on TV ads this year, according to sources watching the media market. That’s far higher than the amount spent on television in the fight for the White House between Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonDems land top recruit for Ros-Lehtinen's Florida district Trump's election integrity commission will meet for first time in July Poll: Most Wisconsin voters disapprove of Trump’s performance MORE and Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump trolling of Comey — Not presidential OPINION: CNN shines in 'Russian Connection' special Dem lawmaker launches petition to block deportation of 9/11 recovery worker MORE.

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The race between Sen. Pat Toomey (R) and former state environmental official Katie McGinty (D) in Pennsylvania is the most expensive contest of the year. Toomey and his Republican allies have spent $67 million on television ads, while McGinty and Democrats have spent $52 million.

In New Hampshire, supporters of Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteOPINION: Democracy will send ISIS to the same grave as communism Kelly Ayotte joins defense contractor's board of directors Week ahead: Comey firing dominates Washington MORE (R) and Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) have combined to spend $117 million on television advertisements in a state covered by only four media markets.

Republicans backing Rep. Joe Heck (R) in Nevada spent $46 million, while Democrats dropped $44.9 million on television ads backing former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) in the fight for retiring Sen. Harry ReidHarry ReidDems face identity crisis Heller under siege, even before healthcare Charles Koch thanks Harry Reid for helping his book sales MORE’s (D) seat.

The two sides spent a combined $50 million or more in Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Indiana, and Missouri, too.

Outside groups have dominated spending on television advertising, surpassing even the traditional campaign committees. 

The largest outside group backing Republicans, the Senate Leadership Fund, spent a combined $87 million on television spots this year, nearly double the $45 million spent by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Granite State Solutions, a New Hampshire-specific PAC tied to the American Crossroads network, and One Nation, an issue advocacy group, added another $50 million to Senate Leadership Fund's total.

Senate Spending

 

The Senate Majority PAC, a group run by close allies of Senate Democratic leaders, dropped $67 million on television spots, more than the $60 million spent by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent a total of $17.5 million on television ads. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) put up $23 million on behalf of Democratic candidates, while the League of Conservation Voters spent $11 million. Independence USA PAC, a group funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, spent $6.6 million on behalf of Democratic candidates and $5.4 million on behalf of Republicans.

No single candidate spent more than Toomey, whose campaign spent $17 million on television ads. Ohio Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanOur national parks need updates; Congress can help Capitol Police arrest 40 during healthcare protests GOP governors could help bring down Senate health bill MORE (R), Hassan, Cortez Masto and former Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) all dedicated more than $10 million to television advertisements this year.

On the other end of the spectrum, Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) spent the least on television advertising this year. Both Schatz, who spent $69,000, and Lankford, who spent $45,000, will cruise to reelection on Tuesday. Lankford waited until the last two weeks before Election Day to begin running his ads, which aired on television in the Tulsa market and on radio in Oklahoma City.

The spending totals are likely to creep higher, both as last-minute buys come through and in Louisiana, where the top two finishers in Tuesday’s election will head to a December runoff. State Treasurer John Kennedy (R) is likely to secure the top spot in that contest, while polls show Rep. Charles BoustanyCharles BoustanyDemocrats, Republicans must work together to advance health care Lobbying World Former GOP rep joins K Street lobbying firm Capitol Counsel MORE (R) and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D) battling for the second spot, with Rep. John FlemingJohn FlemingCoast Guard suspends search for missing Ohio plane Freedom Caucus member to bring up bill on impeaching IRS chief GOP seeks to make it 52 MORE (R) close behind.