Dec 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Conservatives target vulnerable Democrats with college football ad buy

A screenshot shows an ad being run this weekend against N.H. Sen. Maggie Hassan.

A screenshot shows an ad running this weekend against Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.). Courtesy: America Next

A conservative group is taking its air campaign to defeat President Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending package to college football games, targeting vulnerable senators in Arizona, Nevada and New Hampshire with a nearly $3 million buy.

Why it matters: By running TV ads during this weekend's widely watched conference championships, America Next is seeking a big audience while trying to lash those senators to Biden's proposals — and sink them with his sagging approval ratings.

  • “People in New Hampshire, Arizona and Nevada believe the country is headed in the wrong direction and disapprove of the job Joe Biden is doing as President,” said Bobby Jindal, the former Louisiana governor who founded the group.
  • David Bergstein, communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told Axios: "Voters know Senate Democrats are fighting to lower costs, cut taxes and grow jobs — and these false attacks will do nothing to save Republicans from their opposition to these popular policies or their flawed candidates fighting amongst each other in vicious primaries."

Driving the news: America Next, a 501(c)(4)group, is launching a $2.8 million buy in expensive media markets like Boston, Las Vegas and Phoenix — and on stations carrying the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC championship football games.

  • In tax-conscious New Hampshire, the ad mocks a fictional yoga-practicing New Yorker who's ridden out the pandemic in his second home.
  • It calls on Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) to reject the proposed changes to state and local tax (SALT) deductions that will predominantly benefit the wealthy. “Vote no on Biden’s Better for Millionaires Plan,” the narrator says.
  • In Arizona, the ad blames Biden for the increase in illegal immigration. “And Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) refuses to stop it. Too far. Too fast,” says the narrator.
  • In Nevada, the spotlight is about inflation, and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) is hit for voting with Biden 97% of the time. "Tell Cortez Masto put the brakes on Joe Biden," the narrator concludes.

The other side: Building Back Together, an outside Biden advocacy group that accepts unlimited donations, announced a $10 million ad campaign last month to sell the bipartisan infrastructure law the president signed into law last month.

  • The group is running ads in Arizona, New Hampshire and Nevada, as well as Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — six states that will likely determine control of the Senate in 2022.

Go deeper: Democrats and progressive groups have been pummeling Republicans on Senate ads surrounding the Build Back Better agenda.

  • They've outspent them $54 million to $15 million on cable, TV and radio ads since August.
  • After Democrats lost the statehouse in Virginia in November, conservative groups intensified their attacks on frontline House Democrats, ahead of the House’s passage of Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending and climate plan.
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