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Report: Competitive U.S. House Races Spell Good Fortune for Broadcast Stations

Campaign spending on TV ads highest of any election cycle

Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., appears in an “Estruth for Congress” ad on television in October 1995. (CQ Roll Call file photo)
Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., appears in an “Estruth for Congress” ad on television in October 1995. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amid a fierce battle for control of the House, candidates are spending around 50 percent more than they did at this point in the 2014 election cycle, according to a Bloomberg report.

Due to an unusually large number of retirements in the House this year, candidates have come out in large numbers in districts where they will not face the typical uphill primary battle against an incumbent. Sixty-four Representatives are retiring, have resigned, or are running in another election this year, according to Roll Call’s Departing Members

This is the first midterm election of the Trump presidency and Republicans will need a strong defense against Democrats trying to capitalize on a possible “blue wave” of anti-Trumpers. In pursuit of the House and the power to block Trump’s agenda, Democrats will need to net 23 seats. So far, 128,000 broadcast spots for House races have run, with spending somewhere around $40 million, according to the Bloomberg report, which analyzed data from Kantar Media.

San Diego’s 49th District where Republican Darrell Issa is retiring has been the heaviest target of this advertising thus far. Twelve candidates came out for the primary and the district has seen over 12,000 broadcast TV ads already. Albuquerque, New Mexico follows at a close second with over 10,000 ads, followed by Lexington, Kentucky.

The top spender so far is Democratic businessman Paul Kerr, who put forth half of all broadcast spots in San Diego. He spent at least $4.5 million to no avail, finishing seventh in the primary on June 5th. Republican Dermatologist John Joyce of Pennsylvania’s 15th District claims the second highest number of spots. Unlike Kerr, Joyce beat out seven other candidates in the May 15th primary for a district rated Solid Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

The heaviest advertising is still yet to come as campaigning is expected to ramp up significantly after Labor Day, according to Bloomberg. Republican super-PAC Congressional Leadership Fund claimed last week to have placed $50 million into broadcast advertising for the Fall, and Democratic committees surely will not fall behind this spending, the report said.

In total, around $2.4 billion will be spent on broadcast TV ads, including those for House, Senate, and local seat races, according to estimates by Kantar Media’s.

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