Midterm election bills are piling up, with total ad spending predicted to hit $1 billion before the end of the cycle, according to the Wesleyan Media Project, a program that tracks political ad spending.

Outside groups are responsible for a larger share of Senate advertisements during this cycle, 40 percent of all ads compared to 42 percent in 2012. Three hundred and thirty seven million dollars has been spent on ads in Senate races, $426 million in gubernatorial races and $154 million in House races — bringing the grand total to more than $917 million.

“Ad spending this election cycle will easily break the $1 billion mark in the next week or two,” said Travis Ridout, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project. “We also expect to see at least 2 million ad airings in House, Senate and gubernatorial races by Election Day.”


But there hasn’t necessarily been an increase in advertisements across the board. While there are 17.6 percent more Senate ads during this cycle when compared to last, there are 8 percent fewer House ads.

Three House races all have had more than 4,000 ads since the start of the cycle: Georgia's 12th District (Democratic Rep. John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowOur democracy can’t afford to cut legal aid services from the budget Dem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel Barrow thanks staff in farewell speech MORE v. Republican Rick Allen), Florida's 2nd District (Republican Rep. Steve Southerland v. Democrat Gwen Graham), and Arizona's 2nd District (Democratic Rep. Ron BarberRonald (Ron) Sylvester BarberKavanaugh nomination a make or break moment to repeal Citizens United Latina Leaders to Watch 2018 Principles and actions mean more than Jeff Flake’s words MORE v. Republican Martha McSally). Florida and Texas have both seen the highest number of gubernatorial ads, and North Carolina and Iowa have the most Senate ads. 

The numbers also show that Republicans are more reliant on outside groups for ads than Democrats. In all but two of the 15 most competitive Senate elections, in South Dakota and Virginia, outside groups aired more ads for Republicans. According to the Wesleyan Media Project, that’s a mixed bag.

"Because Republicans are relying on outside groups to pay for their ads, they are not getting as much bang for the buck as Democrats,” Michael Franz, the project’s co-director, said. “Sixty days before an election, candidates are entitled to the lowest unit rate from television stations, but that does not apply to the various groups who are funding ads. Still, because political science research suggests outside spending can be more persuasive than ads from candidates, this strategy may pay off for Republicans.”