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 Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia 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 Ann AyotteExplaining Democratic victories: It’s gun violence, stupid Trump voter fraud panel member fights back against critics Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada 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 ReidBill O'Reilly: Politics helped kill Kate Steinle, Zarate just pulled the trigger Tax reform is nightmare Déjà vu for Puerto Rico Ex-Obama and Reid staffers: McConnell would pretend to be busy to avoid meeting with Obama 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 PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him How four GOP senators guided a tax-bill victory behind the scenes 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 William BoustanyTop Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns Controversial House Republican gains national attention after filming Auschwitz video Democrats, Republicans must work together to advance health care 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.