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 ClintonOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Dem pollster: GOP women have a more difficult time winning primary races than Dems Mellman: (Mis)interpreting elections MORE and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism 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 AyotteNew Hampshire governor signs controversial voting bill Former Arizona senator to shepherd Supreme Court nominee through confirmation process Shut the back door to America's opioid epidemic 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 Mason ReidDon’t worry (too much) about Kavanaugh changing the Supreme Court Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick The dishonesty of the deep state 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 PortmanTrump seeks to quell Russia furor GOP moderates hint at smooth confirmation ahead for Kavanaugh Sens introduce bipartisan bill matching Zinke proposed maintenance backlog fix 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 BoustanyLobbying world Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response Americans worried about retirement should look to employee ownership MORE (R) and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D) battling for the second spot, with Rep. John FlemingJohn Calvin FlemingFive GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus Coast Guard suspends search for missing Ohio plane Freedom Caucus member to bring up bill on impeaching IRS chief MORE (R) close behind.