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DCCC Cuts Airtime in 8 TV Markets

Israel was among those stunned by the Cantor loss. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Israel was among those stunned by the Cantor loss. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has started to pull back its advertising buys in several congressional districts around the country, according to an aide.  

At this point in the cycle, the cancellations — also known as “triage ” — serve as a signal the party does not see a path to victory for these candidates or races. House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, has already pulled some of its buys in the same districts.  

For now, House Democrats are only canceling airtime reservations in open-seat races or offensive opportunities. In some cases, the DCCC is still airing advertisements in some of the affected races for the next couple weeks.  

In addition to the cancellations, the DCCC is also moving money to other districts, including other open-seat opportunities, districts held by Democrats and one GOP incumbent target.  

House Democrats must net 17 seats to win the majority, but it’s more likely they will lose seats in November. These cuts allow the DCCC to use the party’s resources in other reasons where the party has a higher likelihood of winning.  

The cancellations include:

  • California’s 3rd and 10th districts: This now-canceled reservation for the second-to-last week of the campaign was initially intended as airtime to protect Democratic Rep. John Garamendi and target Republican Rep. Jeff Denham.
  • California’s 21st District: The DCCC pulled back reservations for the final two weeks of the campaign in their bid to unseat Republican Rep. David Valadao. His challenger, Democrat Amanda Renteria, will almost certainly be recruited by Democrats to run again in 2016 if she comes up short in November.
  • Iowa’s 4th District: The House Democratic political arm is pulling a Sioux City broadcast buy against Republican Rep. Steve King for the last two weeks of the campaign.
  • Illinois’ 13th District: The DCCC is cutting a second-to-last-week of the cycle in a St. Louis broadcast buy initially intended to target Republican Rep. Rodney Davis.
  • Michigan’s 7th, 8th and 11th districts: The committee is cutting a Detroit broadcast reservation in the second-to-last week of the campaign. They had hoped to target three Republican-held seats in the area.
  • New York’s 21st District: The DCCC is canceling its last two weeks of airtime in its bid to hold onto Rep. Bill Owens’ seat in Upstate New York.
  • New York’s 23rd District: House Democrats are canceling reservations for the campaign’s last two weeks in their effort to oust Republican Rep. Tom Reed.
  • Pennsylvania’s 6th and 8th districts: The DCCC is scaling back its buy to target retiring Republican Rep. Jim Gerlach’s seat and oust Republican Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick.

Airtime Additions:

  • Iowa’s 3rd District: The DCCC is adding Omaha broadcast airtime in early October to boost Democrat Staci Appel’s bid to replace retiring Republican Rep. Tom Latham.
  • Illinois’ 10th District: The committee is bolstering freshman Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider with mid-October broadcast and cable buy in his district north of Chicago.
  • Illinois’ 12th District: The House political arm added four weeks of Paducah, Ky. broadcast in support of Democratic Rep. Bill Enyart.
  • Minnesota’s 8th District: The DCCC added a month’s worth of Duluth broadcasting to back Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan.
  • Nebraska’s 2nd District: The committee added a week of Omaha broadcast in its offensive bid to take out Republican Rep. Lee Terry.
  • New York’s 18th District: House Democrats added four weeks of New York City cable from early October to Election Day to back freshman Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.

At this point, the DCCC has yet to pull the plug on an incumbent. In 2012, the committee canceled reservations on North Carolina Rep. Larry Kissell, who went on to lose his re-election.Four years ago, the DCCC canceled reservations on a number of incumbents who lost in one of the GOP’s best election cycles in modern history.  

In June, the DCCC placed an initial nationwide round of reservations worth $43.5 million. The committee went on to expand that buy to $56 million.  

The DCCC’s independent expenditure arm traditionally reserves more ad time than they intend to eventually purchase. They do this to secure ad rates at a discounted price.  

Around the same time, Republicans announced a smaller round of reservations worth about $30 million. They have since added reservations in a late , piecemeal fashion . Also last week, GOP outside groups  began to step up their House ad buys.  

The NRCC and GOP outside groups tend to reserve late and pay a premium for ad rates. In this effort, they preserve the element of surprise and avoid the frequent cancellation headlines that House Democrats earn.  

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