Democratic Senate candidates see more fundraising than the GOP — but they’re still being spent on the airwaves

Democrats are breaking records with their fundraising in key Senate races – indicating they will have ample resources available in the final weeks of the election season. And yet, last month, Republicans ousted him on the air, largely thanks to outside groups.

The change in spending has come on the campaign trail. It hasn’t escaped the attention of Democrats that they are being influenced by GOP ads, and they may have: elections are tight In recent weeks several battlefield races.

Advertising spending in the Senate general election has now exceeded $1 billion, and more than half of that has gone to four races: Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

When it comes to the Senate race, Democrats have been able to surpass or match Republicans in terms of the reach of their ads on the airwaves for most of the weeks since the general election began, according to a source tracking media purchases. This is partly because candidate campaigns get better rates on advertising. In other words, they are paying less than outside groups for the same air time. Even if they are being spent by outside groups, Democrats retain an advantage over who is viewing those ads, at least for now.

Raphael Warncock, left, and Herschel Walker.

Paras Griffin / Getty Images, Megan Warner / Getty Images

In Georgia, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock raised more than $26 million in the third quarter of the year. Pennsylvania and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman raised $22 million, and Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes raised more than $20 million, while Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan raised $17 million in the same period.

Among Republicans, only Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Herschel Walker in Georgia have released totals so far. Oz brought in just over $17 million, but that figure included a personal loan of $7 million; Walker said he raised $12 million.

John Fetterman, Mehmet Ozu

Nate Smallwood / Getty Images, Stephanie Keith / Getty Images

From late April to June, Democrats outnumbered Republicans in nearly every battleground Senate race with the exception of Wisconsin—in some cases they ran nearly twice as much as their opponents. Meanwhile, according to AdImpact, Republicans overtook Democrats with more than $178 million in the Senate race last month, with more than $164 million.

But much of that Republican money — $133 million last month — came from outside groups, while candidates invested $33 million. For Democrats, more money was spent directly by candidates.

Here’s what it means at some of the biggest races:

In Georgia, Warnock was the biggest TV and cable spender in the nation’s most competitive Senate race, with nearly $10 million in July and August. But Republicans overtook Democrats last month in support of Republican Herschel Walker. Overall, however, Democrats’ ads aired more frequently due to more favorable rates for candidates.

A similar pattern has emerged in Pennsylvania. Fatterman was the top spender on TV and cable in the first two months of the third quarter; Democrats outnumber Republicans overall. It shifted to Republicans in September with an increase in spending.

Republicans have been critical of Fetterman over the ad crime. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s group, the Senate Leadership Fund, plunked nearly $11 million into the race on TV and cable last month. This led to a dramatic jump in Republican ads airing in the state in September. But overall the Democrats maintained their advantage in the number of commercials that aired in the race.

The shift to more GOP spending in the race after Democrats’ spending gains last month could also be seen in North Carolina, Nevada and Ohio. According to AdImpact, the number of GOP ads has increased significantly, but in all of them, Democrats maintained a lead in the number of ad broadcasts.

The situation was slightly different in Wisconsin, where incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson led his Democratic rival Barnes in fundraising for the second quarter, although Barnes was in the middle of a crowded Democratic primary. While Johnson has yet to release his fundraising numbers from July to September, Republicans are flooding the airwaves and millions to back his only GOP incumbent for re-election in state President Joe Biden’s victory. are spending.

In September, Republicans collectively outnumbered Democrats on TV and cable ads in Wisconsin: $18.3 million to $13.9 million, according to AdImpact. Democrats spent more than $1 million in August and nearly $3 million more in July, but Democrats spent those months through their primary process. In July and August, more Republican ads aired than Democrats. This was not the case last month but it was pretty close in numbers compared to other states.

Anthony Chergowski, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, said Republican external spending played a “major role” in the campaign. While spending outside the group can sometimes “hijack” candidates’ messaging and focus, Republican ads have “reinforced” Johnson’s message against Barnes on crime and law enforcement, he said.

“You turn on the TV in Wisconsin and every commercial break Mandela Barnes is completely harassed over issues of police and crime,” he said. “Republican outside groups know what to do when it comes to targeting Mandela Barnes’ weak spots.”

When it comes to growth in GOP ads, the McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund was the biggest player in some battleground Senate races last month. A spokesman for the group said it was “furiously suing the Democrats’ record.”

“As voters learn of Democrats’ lockstep support for an agenda that destroys their quality of life, they are looking for candidates who will be able to support these out-of-control liberal policies,” communications director Jack Pandol said in a statement. Will investigate.”

One of the few major Senate races where Republicans spent less than Democrats last month was in Arizona, where Democrats spent nearly $9 million more than Republicans. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly contributed more than $9 million of the $19.4 million spent by Democrats on television and cable ads.

Election 2022 Senate Arizona Diet
Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, left, Republican challenger Blake Masters, right, and Libertarian Mark Victor, back, hold on stage before a televised debate in Phoenix, Thursday, October 6, 2022.

Ross D. Franklin / AP

While the ad spending dynamic shifted to more Republican spending in the third quarter, Democrats are getting some help from outside groups as well. Although it didn’t spend as much as the Senate Leadership Fund, the Senate Majority PAC dropped nearly $27 million last month—making it the biggest spender for Senate Democratic candidates, according to AdImpact. Then candidates Warnock and Kelly were among the top Democrats to spend on television.

The deadline for candidates to report their third-quarter fundraising totals with the Federal Election Commission is October 15.

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