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Both parties will want to persuade last-minute undecided voters with advertisements. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

If you want a glimpse of how competitive the fight to take over the U.S. House has become in 2018, just turn on the TV.

Driving the news: Democrats and Republicans have spent nearly $40 million on more than 128,000 Congressional campaign ads through June 11, up 54% from the same period in 2014, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: There's a lot at stake for both parties this year, as they fight for the House majority in President Trump's first midterm election. Increased advertising and ad spending is a good indicator of which races are truly the most competitive.

By the numbers: Kantar Media, the political advertising tracking group behind Bloomberg's data, estimates that $2.4 billion will be spent on broadcast TV ads for races at all levels during the 2018 election cycle (that's 14% more than 2014 ad spend).

  • Campaign ads for House races have been broadcast in 112 of the country's 210 TV markets.
  • Kantar Media estimated spending will reach $850 million on local cable TV ads and $600 million for Internet ads.
  • The Congressional Leadership Fund has reserved $50 million for broadcast and cable ads in the coming months. Democratic groups will likely match this number or get close to it.

Be smart: Advertising will ramp up aggressively in the weeks leading up to the election, when both parties are hoping to snag last-minute undecided voters and encourage their base voters to actually show up to the polls.

Go deeper

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.