With 46 days until Election Day, the political ad season is heading into its busiest weeks. It is also the period when radio is best-positioned to grab its share of the dollars. The amount of money being spent is robust for a midterm election. AdImpact has tracked $6.15 billion of political ad spending so far and it says 2022 has now officially surpassed the 2020 cycle in non-presidential political ad spending. That includes more than $216 million that was spent nationwide on political advertising last week (9/11-9/17).
The numbers are even more impressive when stacked up against the prior three election cycles. Two years ago, AdImpact says $5.95 billion worth of non-presidential ads were placed, with the current 2022 tally well above the last midterm election in 2018 when $3.96 billion was spent.
While the races for Senate seats in Georgia ($11 million) and Wisconsin ($9 million) had two of the three top-spending ad campaigns last week, the leader was not for a person. Instead, it was for California proposition No. 27 which would legalize sports betting in the state. AdImpact says $15 million was spent on the ballot measure last week.
But the most expensive U.S. Senate race so far is in Nevada where, after candidates spent $28 million during the primary season, AdImpact has so far tracked $129 million of advertising during the general election.
In terms of the ads still to come, AdImpact says Democrats hold a $114 million advantage in ad spending and reservations through Election Day. It says although Republican advertisers currently hold a $46 million advantage in issue group and coordinated buy spending and reservations, Democratic candidates have a $160 million spending advantage over GOP candidates. But a Bloomberg analysis shows that as Republicans look to secure control of the House of Representatives, the GOP is outspending Democrats in several districts that could be key to the outcome.
Democrats are tying their fate to the abortion rights issue, with no other topic gaining more attention in their ads during the first half of September. AdImpact looked at 448 ads for U.S. Senate and House and gubernatorial races and found one in five mentioned abortion rights. NBC News reports inflation was the second most-cited issued, followed by crime, guns, and U.S. relations with China.
As earlier reported by Inside Radio, AdImpact forecasts $9.67 billion for 2022's total midterm election ad spend. That would make it the second consecutive election cycle to pass $9 billion and the most expensive midterm, not to mention political ad cycle, on record. Driving up ad spend and helping fill the Presidential void are 2022's 38 Gubernatorial elections, versus just 14 in 2020.
BIA worked with AdImpact to devise its outlook, and the firm estimates over-the-air radio will receive $428.4 million in political ad spending this year. Over-the-air television will get the lion’s share, with forecasts hitting $3.8 billion by the end of the 2022 cycle. Digital ranked third, bypassing cable television.