A sign is seen as voters line up for the U.S. Senate run-off election, at a polling location in Marietta, Georgia, January 5, 2021.
Mike Segar | Reuters
The 2022 midterm elections are on track to be the most expensive ever as more than $6.4 billion is being poured into TV, radio and digital ads for U.S. House, Senate, gubernatorial and local races, according to nonpartisan ad tracker AdImpact and campaign finance data.
Candidates and outside groups have spent almost $50 million on midterm ads running on Facebook and Google alone over the last 30 days, according to data compiled by the companies.
The more than $6.4 billion in ad spending already surpasses both the 2018 and 2020 election cycles, according to AdImpact, which estimates that overall ad spending will hit $9.7 billion by Election Day in November.
The massive amount of spending on political ads throughout the 2022 election cycle reflects the urgency of both parties to gain power in Washington and across the country. Democrats control the House and Senate but only by slim margins.
The Senate is split 50-50 with Democrats having to rely on Vice President Kamala Harris for tie-breaking votes. Cook Political Report labels Senate seats held by Sens. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev. and Ron Johnson, R-Wis. as toss-ups. Democrats have a nine-seat majority in the House, with the Cook report projecting 31 House seats being up for grabs.
Combined, the Masto and Warnock campaigns have spent just over $4 million on broadcast TV ads since Sept. 5, according to recent data tracked by the Wesleyan Media Project. Johnson’s team and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have spent almost $1.3 million on TV ads over that same time period, the study shows.
A separate study by the same group shows federal races up and down the ballots in Georgia, Nevada and Wisconsin have hit key issues for voters, including the environment, health care, inflation and public safety.
Campaigns have put a ton of resources into digital ads over just the past month. They’ve spent almost $46 million on Google ads over the last 30 days, according to the search engine’s data.
The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has spent $2.72 million since late August on Google ads attacking Democrats running for Senate. The PAC’s allied nonprofit, One Nation, has spent just over $2.3 million on ads. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC that backs House Republicans, has spent $1.32 million over the past month on Google ads.
Democrats have jumped in with spending millions on Google ads over the past four weeks, records show. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a campaign arm for Senate Democrats, has spent just over $1 million in Google ads, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which acts as the campaign arm for House Democrats, has spent an almost equal amount on Google ads.
Among Senate Democrats, Warnock’s campaign has spent the most on Google ads over the last 30 days, plowing more than $1 million into spots on the search platform.
Campaigns and outside groups have spent more than $4 million on Facebook over the same time period, according to the social media giant’s data.
Americans for Prosperity Action, a super PAC financed in part by the massive conglomerate Koch Industries, has spent over $810,000 on Facebook ads, with some spots backing Republicans running for state seats. Koch Industries made a $3 million donation to the super PAC in August, according to a Federal Election Commission filing.
Warnock’s campaign has spent almost $735,000 on Facebook spots this month, with John Fetterman, a Democrat running for Pennsylvania’s Senate seat versus Dr. Mehmet Oz, spending $550,000 over the same time period.