Political ad spending headed for the stratosphere last month. AdImpact has released its final tally for October and it says $2.39 billion was spent across the country. The total was the biggest month ever for political spending in a non-presidential year. October also becomes the second-highest month in history, only trailing what was spent during the October 2020 presidential year election according to the political ad-tracking firm. Last month’s total was also more than double the $1.1 billion that was spent during September.
Less than one week until Election Day, there is a blizzard of late-game ad buys as political parties move money to where they think it can do the best. In some cases, it is also bringing dollars to media outlets that probably thought they would not get any ad dollars for a particular race. One such example is a fresh ad buy from the Democrats’ House Majority PAC that is trying to hold onto what had been thought of as safe seats in New York, New Hampshire and Vermont.
In addition to the fight for control of Congress, ad spending has been spurred on by gubernatorial races in three dozen states. AdImpact said earlier this week that it calculates $109 million was spent on those races last month nationwide. The biggest total was in Wisconsin where $11.2 million was spent, followed by Texas ($9.2 million), Nevada ($8.4 million), New York ($8 million), and Florida ($7.6 million).
Pollsters say the Democrats risk losing their majorities in both the House and Senate, and if that happens it will not be for a lack of spending. AdImpact’s analysis shows that Democratic advertisers outspent Republicans in October by $229 million. But it was the GOP that spent the most every month from January through May. June was the closest to a dead heat, when Democrats had just a $1 million spending advantage on Republicans.
Anyone who has been near a radio or television will probably not be surprised to learn that crime has been one of the most talked-about issues on political ads this year. An analysis of AdImpact data by CNN shows that for the first weeks of October, a quarter of Republicans overall ad spending was focused on crime. That totaled $64.5 million.
Democrats also jumped on the issue. They reportedly spent $58 million on ads mentioning crime during the first three weeks of October, which was about 15% of their total ad spending.