Aug 18, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Midterm ads set to explode

Illustration of a television test pattern made of hundred dollar bills.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Americans are about to be bombarded with hundreds of millions of dollars in political ads as the parties' top spenders prep a huge fall advertising blitz.

Why it matters: 2022 election spending is expected to smash records. With primary season coming to a close, both parties are preparing to unload the massive war chests they've stockpiled since last year.

  • Advertising intelligence firm AdImpact projects the 2022 cycle will see nearly $9.7 billion in political advertising.
  • That's more than double the previous midterm record, set in 2018, and even more than was spent during a 2020 election cycle that featured a hotly contested presidential race.

Driving the news: Senate Majority PAC, Democrats' leading Senate super PAC, just started dropping millions into Georgia — one of the most competitive states in the country.

  • An SMP-affiliated group, Georgia Honor, reported spending more than $3 million this month on ads attacking Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker.
  • SMP itself took out "six figures" in new ad buys in North Carolina — a Republican-leaning seat — this month, the group told Axios.
  • Those expenditures represent just a fraction of the more than $100 million in airtime SMP has reserved for the fall, with ads across six states expected to begin airing this month.

The other side: Republicans' counterpart, the Senate Leadership Fund, just made a massive boost to its fall spending plans with $28 million in new airtime reservations in Ohio — once thought to be a relatively safe red seat.

  • Polls show the race between Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan and Republican J.D. Vance is neck and neck.
  • The Ohio intervention comes on top of the $150 million the McConnell-aligned group has already reserved for the fall across seven states.
  • SLF is going on air to attack the surging Democratic nominee John Fetterman in Pennsylvania on Friday, the group tells Axios, in its first general election salvo.

Republicans on the House side are also upping their ad buys.

  • The GOP's Congressional Leadership Fund tells Axios it's boosting ad buys in two districts — Maine's 2nd and Michigan's 8th — on Thursday, with nearly $1 million in additional spending between them.
  • CLF has reserved more than $125 million in airtime across 48 media markets.

Its Democratic counterpart, House Majority PAC, has similar plans: it's booked more than $120 million in airtime in 50 markets.

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