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 ClintonBudowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE and Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMedia giants side with Bannon on request to release Jan. 6 documents Cheney warns of consequences for Trump in dealings with Jan. 6 committee Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official MORE.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 AyotteSununu setback leaves GOP scrambling in New Hampshire The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP dealt 2022 blow, stares down Trump-era troubles Sununu exit underscores uncertain GOP path to gain Senate majority 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 ReidBottom line Voters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama 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 PortmanOhio Senate candidate unveils ad comparing Biden to Carter Advocates urge Senate to vote on nominees for board reviewing whistleblower claims Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise 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 BoustanyFormer lawmakers call on leadership to focus on unity Partial disengagement based on democratic characteristics: A new era of US-China economic relations Lobbying world MORE (R) and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D) battling for the second spot, with Rep. John FlemingJohn Calvin FlemingLobbying world Trump wants Congress to delay Census deadlines amid pandemic Meadows sets up coronavirus hotline for members of Congress MORE (R) close behind.