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Midterm Political Ad Spend: How High Will It Go?

Two spending forecasts for the 2022 election cycle, from Kantar/Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG) and AdImpact, estimate midterm election ad revenue at either $7.8 billion or $8.9 billion. Either projection would far surpass 2018's midterm spend of over $5 billion while approaching the nearly $9 billion generated by the 2020 Presidential election year ad spend.

“It will be hard to replace the spending by [Michael] Bloomberg, [Tom] Steyer and the insane dollars in the US Senate runoff in Georgia,” Kantar's report says, comparing its estimate to 2020 activity. “Donald Trump is also not on the ballot in 2022.”

Kantar's projection takes into account a potential spend increase to influence the significant Hispanic voter bloc in 2022, the higher stakes given the close numbers of Democrats vs. Republicans in the 34 Senate, 435 House of Representatives and 38 Governor's races, and the higher level of ad spending – $2.5 billion – seen during 2020's Senate races.

While Kantar's forecast shows $3.8 billion going to broadcast TV, $1.2 billion to digital media (mostly Facebook and Google), $1.4 billion to cable and satellite TV platforms, $1.2 billion to OTT/CTV and $215 million for radio, AdImpact's more aggressive prediction puts broadcast spend at a much-higher $4.6 billion, digital and cable at $1.3 billion each, CTV at $1.5 billion and radio at $220 million.

According to coverage in MediaPost and, AdImpact's higher estimate is driven by the “widespread use of Facebook as a fundraising tool, [which] has allowed campaigns to quickly and easily reach a highly polarized electorate,” allowing for “candidate and issue groups to fund-raise with greater ease than ever before.” AdImpact cites data showing 2021-to-date expenditures by campaigns, party committees and outside groups far ahead of previous cycles, with total spending for the first nine months of this year at $774 million – a 61% gain vs. this same point in 2019, and up 214% over this point in 2017 – noting that these spends "will certainly help committees and candidates raise big funds to put into media campaigns” and that candidate fundraising is being heavily driven by “celebrity-esque candidates’ online fundraising prowess."

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