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Spending on TV political advertising for the midterms will be nearly as high as presidential election spending two years ago, according to estimates from MAGNA.

Expand chart
Adapted from MAGNA; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Between the numbers: This year's midterm spend is up so much compared to the 2014 midterms due to more competitive races. The Cook Political Report, which ranks races by competitiveness, cites 95 House races as being "competitive" this year and eight Senate races as "toss-ups" compared to 68 House races being "competitive" at this time in 2014 and nine Senate races as "toss-ups."

The bigger picture: While digital is the future, local television is still king when it comes to political advertising and direct mail is still a very popular way to reach voters.

  • In particular, the growth of addressable TV advertising (ads that can be digitally-targeted by household) has become a powerful tool for midterm election advertisers.
  • According to Vincent Letang, EVP, director of global forecasting for Magna Global and author of the report, political campaigns have been pioneering those new capabilities within the industry, because they are very incentivized to take advantage of as niche targeting as possible.

Be smart: Political advertising is what is keeping local television in the U.S. afloat generally. MAGNA estimates that local TV ad spend will be up 9% this year over last year, but If it weren't for this year's elections, it would be down 4.5%.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
4 hours ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

4 hours ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.