The midterm elections may be 18 months away but for five Northeastern states, the political ad spigot has already opened. Radio stations in Pennsylvania, Maine, Connecticut, New Jersey and New Hampshire are part of a multi-platform ad buy placed by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). The campaign, which also includes billboards and digital advertising, is among the first salvos fired by the GOP as it aims to regain a majority in the House of Representatives in the 2022 midterms.
Republicans need to win a net total of five seats in 2022 in order to regain a majority in the House. The ad blitz targets five Democrats in the Northeast who are seen as vulnerable in their reelection bids for next year.
According to Fox News, the ads target Reps. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania (PA-08), Jared Golden of Maine (ME-02), Jahana Hayes of Connecticut (CT-05), Tom Malinowski of New Jersey (NJ-07) and Chris Pappas of New Hampshire (NH-01).
The creative ranges from accusing the lawmakers of advancing “damaging socialist policies" to accepting money from “radical environmentalists” to supporting “the largest tax hikes since 1942."
In Pennsylvania the focal point of the ad is rising gas prices – the average price for a gallon of regular gas in the Keystone State was $3.16 on Monday. "Even though the price of gas is now over $3 a gallon, Matt Cartwright thinks we should pay more," the ad says. "He supported the bill to increase the gas tax by as much as 15 cents a gallon. This means gas could be almost a dollar more per gallon than it was last year."
The burst of political advertising this far in front of an election is an example of how political campaigns have transitioned from every other year to an always on cycle. And it follows research from advertising analytics firm AdImpact showing a total political ad expenditure of $7.95 billion in 2020 surpassing both 2018 ($3.53 billion) and 2016 ($2.31 billion) combined. Of that nearly $8 billion, $3.1 billion was spent on the Presidential races. A not-far-behind $2.5 billion was spent on Senate races – most notably those in Georgia – although, as noted by AdImpact, 2020 included nine of the ten most expensive Senate races.