Kantar/CMAG Ups Political Ad Forecast To Record-Setting $9 Billion.


Like a runaway train on a greased track, the forecast for political ad spending in the 2022 midterm elections is seemingly out of control – or off the rails, or any other suitable metaphor. The latest forecast from the definitive authority, Kantar/CMAG, is for $9 billion. That’s up from $8.4 billion in July and $7.8 billion before that. The new number equals the amount spent during 2020's Presidential race and includes local broadcast, local cable/satellite, radio, Facebook, Google and over the top (OTT) TV.


Here’s how the dollars get divvied up in an election year for the record books. More than half ($4.6 billion) goes to broadcast TV, up from $3.05 billion in the 2018 midterms. There’s $1.5 billion for cable TV/satellite (compared to $1.2 billion in 2018). Fast-growing OTT (also known as connected TV) can bank on $1.4 billion. Facebook and Google are good for $1.2 billion (vs. $900 million in 2018). And radio is forecasted to bill $300 million.


At stake are all 435 House seats, 35 Senate seats and 36 Governor mansions. Where’s all the money going? Five markets alone will capture nearly $1 billion of the election booty. Thanks to ballot measures (legalized gambling anyone?) and a competitive Mayor’s race, Los Angeles is poised to vacuum up $252.6 million. Across the desert, political oddsmakers say Las Vegas will pull in $200.2 million due to competitive House, Senate and Governor’s races. Next up is Atlanta at $195.6 million with Herschel Walker’s campaign to unseat Sen. Raphael Warnock accounting for $129 million of the total. Phoenix is close behind at $195.0 million with $116 going to the Arizona Senate race, the gubernatorial battle closing in on $409 million and the contest for Arizona’s 4th Congressional district pulling in $16.4 million. Philadelphia rounds out the top five with $119.4 million with more than half of that going to a Senate race that pits Democrat John Fetterman against Republican Mehmet Oz (TV’s Dr. Oz).


While there are 35 Senate seats up for grabs, Kantar says “it’s feast or famine in the Senate this year.” Spending in six races has already exceeded $100 million: Georgia ($200 million), Pennsylvania ($170 million), Arizona ($142 million), Wisconsin ($124 million), Nevada ($123 million) and Ohio ($116 million). On the flipside there are 12 Senate races that have yet to cross $2 million. As of Sept. 16, Republicans were outspending Democrats $658 million to $525 million.


Elections these days are in an always-on mode. So when does the 2024 cycle start? Ads supporting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for President are already showing up in national media. “Expect an earlier and more expensive start to the campaign,” says Steve Passwaiter, Kantar’s VP/Growth and Strategy and Senior Advisor to CMAG.

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