Dems crushing GOP incumbents in ad spending in key Senate races
The Arizona match between Democrat Mark Kelly and incumbent Republican Senator Martha McSally raised a staggering $ 116 million in advertising, including spending from outside groups. In Kelly's quest to take the place, he's spent $ 37 million on ads, compared to McSally's $ 18.6 million so far.
This is an example of the high spending on ads by democratic hopefuls in major battlefield states. In some cases, the Democrats have outperformed the Republican incumbents by 2 to 1.
Facing a friendlier map than 2018, Democrats have prepared for a fight to take control of a chamber that has been under Republican leadership since 2015. The late inning addition of a Supreme Court position only added fuel to the fire and money their war crates.
In North Carolina, a race now haunted by both a flirtatious text messaging scandal by Democrat Cal Cunningham and Republican Senator Thom Tillis, who tested positive for coronavirus, about $ 130 million has been spent on ads and at least an additional $ 35 million is expected to be tracked by Kantar / Campaign Media Analysis Group by Election Day. Cunningham alone has already spent nearly $ 18 million, compared to Tillis' just $ 5.5 million on a race where they stood head to head before the news of the scandal broke.
Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham (left) and US Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). Presentation during a televised debate Thursday October 1, 2020 in Raleigh, NC / Credit: Gerry Broome / AP
It's a two-woman race in Maine, with polls showing Senator Susan Collins lags behind Democrat Sara Gideon as the Senator struggles between a rock and a tough place, thanks in part to the recent Supreme Court vacancy. Gideon has also spent more than double what Collins has spent on ads to date, at more than $ 17 million versus less than $ 8 million.
And now Collins faces an additional challenge. The Senator has used her advertisements to promote her work in devising the paycheck protection program as part of the CARES bill that has given relief to thousands of Mainers. But President Trump knelt down that message this week by encouraging lawmakers to stop further COVID incentives until after the election. Collins issued a statement Tuesday criticizing the decision.
When it comes to spending on Senate campaigns, Democrat Theresa Greenfield makes big money in Iowa too. According to Kantar / CMAG, she spent more than $ 25 million on advertising on her Republican opponent, Senator Joni Ernst. Greenfield has lost more than $ 23 million so far. Ernst lost less than $ 8 million. And Greenfield could outperform Ernst by more than $ 25 million by election day in Hawkeye state.
On Thursday, Greenfield announced that it raised $ 28.7 million from July through September, more than double what it was in that cycle through June.
Even the Senate race in Montana has so far spent nearly $ 100 million on advertising. The Democratic Governor Steve Bullock faces Senator Steve Daines. Bullock has spent more than $ 1 million more on ads to date, including $ 15.1 million on Daines' $ 13.9 million. More than $ 125 million could be spent on ads by election day.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of this cycle is the Cook Political Report, which brings the race in the South Carolina Senate to its knees. Democrat Jaime Harrison has so far spent more than $ 46 million against Senator Lindsey Graham, who has only spent $ 15.7 million. The once reliably red state could see nearly $ 100 million in advertising spend on the Senate race by November 3, according to Kantar / CMAG Tracking.
In Colorado, Democrat John Hickenlooper has already spent more than $ 5 million on ads for Senator Cory Gardner. In Kentucky, Amy McGrath beat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by more than $ 10 million for ads. And in Kentucky, Democrat Barbara Bollier spent Republican Roger Marshall $ 8 million to $ 2.6 million. Even in Mississippi, Democrat Mike Espy outperformed Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith by more than five to one.
Democrat Jon Ossoff almost doubled his Republican opponent Senator David Perdue in the two Senate races held simultaneously in Georgia, but that is not the case in the special elections, where nominated Senator Kelly Loeffler faces both Republican and Democratic challengers.
Of all the groups that invest in Senate races, the Senate Majority PAC and Senate Leadership Fund spend the most. Everyone has already invested more than $ 100 million in advertising in races, according to Kantar / CMAG. Both are expected to spend more than $ 150 million each by election day.
The Senate Leadership Fund, a PAC that supports Republicans, raised record donations in 2020, which means they can also spend more than ever before.
A spokesman for the Senate Majority PAC, which supports Democratic candidates, told CBS News that their record-breaking fundraiser allowed them to compete deep on the map.
Like the candidates, the committees on both sides have focused their advertisements on healthcare over the past few months. In Iowa, for example, groups behind both candidates hit the opponent's plans hard. An ad from the Senate Majority PAC, which supports Greenfield, highlights Ernst's vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, the Republican PAC Senate Leadership Fund, which Ernst supports, is critical of Greenfield's support for a public option, with some of the same criticisms leveled at Senator Bernie Sanders' Medicare for all plans during the Iowa Democratic presidential primary.
This is because the bigger picture is still slowly emerging of how much money was raised in the third quarter of 2020. Like Greenfield, Cunningham announced earlier this month that it would raise more than $ 28 million over three months, indicating that Americans are focused and donating to races in the Senate in an unprecedented path. The deadline for submitting Senate campaigns to the Bundestag Election Commission ends on October 15.
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