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October 9, 2014

The 5 Big Questions on Senate Race Spending

2014 senate races

Republicans are closely keeping tabs on Tillis, right, and the North Carolina Senate race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s decision Wednesday to drop $1 million into South Dakota, a race previously written off as a Republican win, was just the latest shakeup of the Senate landscape this week.

On Tuesday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee cut its financial investment in Michigan, where an open seat and a favorable national environment had created an opportunity for the party.

With the Senate majority at stake, the national campaign committees and their outside-group allies are constantly re-evaluating races and analyzing where their resources are most needed and best put to use. It’s all part of a real-life game of Tetris, as the groups meticulously watch each other’s moves and look to fit their ads and messaging into a larger picture.

Many of the moves by the NRSC, the DSCC and other outside groups likely will fly under the radar over the next 26 days — though with potential runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia, Senate ads actually could be airing on TV into early next year. But others, including spending by the campaigns themselves, will offer definitive signs of a race’s potential competitiveness, as in South Dakota and Michigan.

With less than four weeks to go, here are some big questions about the Senate playing field and where the millions more in spending to come will land: Full story

October 7, 2014

New Crossroads Ad Uses Hagan’s Own Words Against Her

crossroads gps

Hagan, above, faces Tillis on Nov. 4. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

Crossroads GPS will air a new ad Wednesday, turning an attack Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., used in her 2008 election campaign against her.

The ad, provided first to CQ Roll Call, uses footage of Hagan attacking now-former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C.

“Voting 92 percent of the time with the president, whether you support him or not, doesn’t work here in North Carolina,” Hagan says in the old footage.

“So Sen. Hagan, why do you vote with Obama 95 percent of the time?” asks a male narrator. Full story

October 6, 2014

Democrats Aim to Boost Black Turnout With Radio in Florida

steve southerland

Southerland is a vulnerable House Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A Democratic outside group will start airing a radio ad targeting Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla., in his high-stakes race against Democrat Gwen Graham in the 2nd District.

According to information provided exclusively to CQ Roll Call, Ocean Champions, a conservation group that backs Democratic candidates, will begin a $64,000 buy Tuesday that will run 1,300 radio spots in the final month of the campaign. The group will release another spot later in the month.

The contest is one of the cycle’s most competitive, and the race is rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. On Monday, both campaigns released varied internal polling.

Full story

September 30, 2014

Republican Cavalry Starts Spending on House Races (Finally)

crossroads

Walden is the chairman of the NRCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For months, Republicans feared outside groups would skip over House races this cycle, saving their cash for the battle over Senate control.

But the conservative cavalry has finally arrived.

Republican groups — which have mostly sat on the sidelines in House contests this cycle until recently — have reserved nearly $12 million on the television airwaves in competitive races through Election Day, according to two sources tracking ad buys in House contests across the country. The reservations, placed over the last two weeks, are a mix of GOP pickup opportunities and defensive ground.

The reservations include:

Full story

GOP Outside Group Targets Tim Bishop on TV

tim bishop

Bishop is being targeted on the air by a Republican group. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A Republican-aligned outside group is airing a TV ad slamming New York Rep. Timothy H. Bishop on his support for the Affordable Care Act.

The Democrat is locked in a challenging re-election campaign against Republican Lee Zeldin.

This is American Action Network’s first independent expenditure TV ad of the general election. It’s running on cable and online, and is part of AAN’s $1.2 million IE campaign in New York’s Long Island-based 1st District.

“Tim Bishop thinks Obamacare is a damn good idea?” says a man named John from Setauket, N.Y. “We think it’s a damn bad idea.” Full story

September 25, 2014

Democrats Cut Ad Time in Michigan House Race (Updated)

house majority pac

Benishek is a Republican from Michigan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:49 p.m. | A Democratic super PAC has cut a television ad reservation for the party’s best offensive opportunity in Michigan, according to two sources who monitor media buys.

House Majority PAC’s cancellation could be a sign Democrats are no longer optimistic their nominee, retired Army Maj. Gen. Jerry Cannon, can defeat Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich.

In June, HMP — a super PAC that boosts House Democrats — reserved $375,000 for the district, according to The Washington Post. A Republican source said the reservation was for Sept. 23 through Oct. 13 in the Marquette and Traverse City media markets.

But this week, HMP went dark in Michigan’s 1st District.

Full story

September 23, 2014

Democrats Cut Ad Time in Upstate New York Race

House Majority PAC has canceled a large television reservation in a competitive upstate New York district, the super PAC spokesman confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

The cancellation could be a sign the Democratic super PAC is throwing in the towel on The Empire State’s 21st District. The television buy, scheduled for Oct. 7 through 20 and totaling $300,000, is in a district that is considered a top pickup opportunity for Republicans.

This is a race to replace Democratic Rep. Bill Owens, who is retiring. The race is currently rated Tilts Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. Full story

September 21, 2014

The Best TV Shows for Political Advertisements

political advertisements

The Good Wife's Julianna Margulies on CBS. (Screengrab/YouTube)

Think of it as must-book TV.

Six weeks before Election Day, campaigns are deciding where and when they want to air their political ads all over the country. But not all shows and networks are equal in the eyes of media buyers. They have more choices than ever, and they approach these decisions with deliberation and armed with ratings data.

In interviews, operatives repeatedly said they look for three kinds of programs for political ads: Live events, and shows that attract women and seniors. Both parties fight fiercely for the female demographic, and seniors serve as one of the most reliable voting blocs in a midterm.

In an ever-increasing effort to target voters, media buyers are attracted to cable’s niche audiences. But they also rely on a few broadcast gems for their desirable voters, er, viewers.

(Screengrab/YouTube)

Full story

September 19, 2014

Roberts to Get Some Help on Air From Freedom Partners

Pat Roberts

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Freedom Partners Action Fund has reserved air time in the Kansas Senate race, where Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., is fighting for his political life.

The Koch brothers-backed group placed a $297,100 buy running in various markets from Sept. 24 through Oct. 7, according to numbers provided to CQ Roll Call by a source tracking ad buys.

From Sept. 24 through Oct. 7, the group reserved $21,200 on Topeka and Wichita broadcast television. From Oct. 1 through Oct. 7, they reserved $4,040 on Joplin cable, $117,025 on Kansas City cable, $1,725 on Line cable, $25,302 on Topeka cable, $2,397 on Tulsa cable, and $62,466 on Wichita cable.

Koch Industries, the business conglomerate owned by Charles and David Koch, is headquartered in Wichita, Kansas.

Roberts faces independent candidate Greg Orman, a well-funded candidate who has recently polled very well against Roberts. On Thursday, the state Supreme Court made Roberts’ life harder when they ruled that the Democratic nominee, Chad Taylor, would not appear on the ballot. Full story

September 15, 2014

Giffords Group Airs Tough Ad Against Martha McSally

gabby giffords

Barber is an Arizona Democrat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

In one of the toughest ads yet of the cycle, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ gun control group is up with a new spot connecting a House candidate’s policies to the actions of a murderous stalker.

The ad will it air in Giffords’ former district around Tucson, where one of the country’s most competitive House races is taking place. Giffords’ group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, is supporting her former top aide, Democratic Rep. Ron Barber, in his rematch against Republican Martha McSally.

In the spot, a tearful Tucson mother described explained how a rejected suitor shot her daughter and her husband. Full story

Democrats Sound the Alarm on Southern California Race

house races

Brownley is a freshman Democrat from California. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats are sending warning signals on a previously sleepy southern California House race — a tangible sign of an increasingly tough midterm for the party.

Freshman Rep. Julia Brownley is one of three House Democrats receiving extra and early help from the national party. A year ago, her district was barely on the party’s radar of competitive races, after President Barack Obama carried it by 10 points last cycle.

“This is a tight race and a difficult seat, and we are committed to hanging onto it,” said Matt Thornton, a spokesman for House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC aiding Brownley’s re-election.

Full story

August 12, 2014

This Fall’s House Ad Wars Have Officially Started (Video)

campaign ads

Grimm is one of the NRCC's first targets with an independent expenditure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The flood gates opened Tuesday when the House campaign committees began the barrage of fall television advertisements.

Exactly a year ago, CQ Roll Call predicted the House’s fall campaign ad wars would begin as early as mid-August, creeping back a few weeks from the traditional start around Labor Day. Now the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and several top tier House candidates rolled out their first television spots of the cycle.

To be sure, some House candidates and outside groups have already been airing general election spots. But these new television ads mark the committee’s first major independent expenditures of the season — and the start of the campaign airwaves war that will only intensify through November.

Full story

August 4, 2014

An Ex-Congressman’s Shaky Comeback Bid in Michigan

Former Rep. Hansen Clarke’s hopes of returning to Congress in a definitive Tuesday primary might be just that for the Michigan Democrat — hopes.

He’s attempting to leverage his name recognition as a former one-term member, but Clarke’s top two Democratic rivals, state Rep. Rudy Hobbs and Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, have major political heft behind their campaigns. Several of Clarke’s former colleagues have lined up behind his opponents, and others expressed doubt about his prospects of coming back to Congress.

“I wanted Hansen to come back, but Hansen didn’t get any labor endorsements,” said Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., who is neutral in the race, in between votes last week. “I think that that’s almost fatal.” Full story

July 31, 2014

Club For Growth Back on TV for Justin Amash

Amash faces a primary on August 5. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Club for Growth’s independent expenditure arm has started airing television spots again on behalf of Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., according to Federal Election Commission records.

The move could be indicative that Amash is in some political jeopardy just days ahead of the August 5 primary.

Amash is fending off a primary challenge from former East Grand Rapids School Trustee Brian Ellis, a self-funding candidate with endorsements from a slew of business-friendly groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The club is one of several tea party groups and members of Congress who are circling their wagons around the libertarian-minded Amash.

Full story

July 25, 2014

Senator Gets Outside Help for Final Days of Hawaii Primary (Video)

hawaii senate race

Schatz hopes to win the Aug. 9 primary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The League of Conservation Voters is spending $380,000 on a TV ad campaign over the next two weeks to boost Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz in the Aug. 9 Democratic primary.

Schatz, who was appointed to fill the seat of Daniel K. Inouye in December 2012, faces Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the competitive nomination fight. They’re running to serve the remaining two years of Inouye’s term.

LCV’s first ad, which begins running Saturday, focuses on the threat of climate change to Hawaii and states Schatz is “holding corporate polluters who cause it accountable.” It also highlights the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s recent endorsement of him. Full story

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