The ads are still running, but after months of primaries and general election campaigns the proof of their effectiveness will in the voting booth today. The final tally on how much was spent by campaigns, political parties, and outside groups is still to come, but a preliminary total from AdImpact shows it has been the most expensive midterm on record. The ad tracking firm says collective spending has topped $8.56 billion so far.
The final weeks are always the most robust for political advertising and also when radio is most likely to get in on the action. In the last two weeks, AdImpact says it tracked $1.45 billion in political spending. That included 2,296 unique political ads that aired 1,150,256 times nationwide. Its analysis shows Los Angeles was the market with the most spending during the last two weeks at $75.5 million, followed by Las Vegas ($69.6 million) and Phoenix ($65.3 million).
The final weeks have brought all kinds of shifts in ad buying strategies and totals, but the early read on the numbers suggests Democrats outspent Republicans by $300 million. And nearly $1.5 billion was spent by political organizations that had no direct ties to either party, according to AdImpact.
The record-setting midterm is not a surprise to anyone who has been following the trends. AdImpact said last week that $2.39 billion was spent during October, making it the biggest month ever for political spending in a non-presidential year. Last month’s total was also more than double the $1.1 billion that was spent during September.
Polls show either party could win control of the U.S. Senate with the decision likely coming down to the races in a dozen states. As expected, it is where the biggest spending has occurred. AdImpact says both parties have spent $1.34 billion overall on the Senate contests -- with Democrats spending $714 million and Republicans shelling out $617 million. Georgia is where the most has been invested – totaling $249 million -- followed by Pennsylvania ($221 million), Nevada ($159 million), Arizona ($144 million), Wisconsin ($144 million), Ohio ($103 million), North Carolina ($98 million), New Hampshire ($80 million), Florida ($50 million), and Colorado ($40 million).
Experts think the Republicans are more likely to win the House, but Democrats have not been willing to let go without a fight. AdImpact says during this election cycle the Republican Congressional Leadership Fund and Democrat House Majority PAC were the top two spending advertisers in House races this cycle, spending $347 million collectively across 73 elections. Democratic ads mainly focused on abortion, with ads referencing the topic airing over 41,000 times in general congressional elections this cycle. The GOP led its ads with crime, with ads referencing the issue airing over 18,000 times.
The record midyear total came as spending ramped up after Labor Day. Since early September AdImpact says $3.9 million of the total has been spent – and counting – with Democratic spending ($2.1 billion) leading Republican spending ($1.8 billion).
The 36 gubernatorial races have also brought a windfall to media outlets. The early data shows $829 million was invested in those races, with Democrats again outspending the GOP.
In the coming hours and days as votes are counted, so too will dollars as AdImpact tabulates its final totals. The firm has forecast the 2022 election cycle could add up to $9.7 billion in spending overall, with radio’s share pegged at $270 million.