Spending surges on US Senate, House races


Wesleyan Media Project and Kantar Media/CMAG are keeping track of political spending, and they have found a major surge in the five weeks beginning 9/1 in this election cycle compared to the same period in 2008.  They estimate that spending in campaigns for the US Congress has gone from about $113M to $198M in that time period.

In Senate races, the uptick is largely coming from the candidates themselves – spending has gone from $30.4M to $74.7M. Interest group spending has increase, just as expected by most to increase after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling – in fact, it’s almost doubled, going from $12.3M to $23.7M. While the parties have scaled back, dropping from $18.4M to $7.2M, coordinated spending has drastically increased from $1.05M to $9.1M. All of that amounts to an 84.36% increase in spending. Spotloads are up on 25.34%, however, indicating an increase in the price of an average spot.

It’s much the same story in the House, although the proportions are different. Candidate expenditures have risen from $37.3M to $58.5M; party spending is near par, going from $7.9M to $8.7M; interest groups have nearly tripled expenditures from $4.6M to $13.4M, and coordinated spending is up from $1.0M to $3.5M. In all added up to a $65.43% increase in spending on a $64.65% increase in spot volume.

The survey did not speculate on whether this was due to higher prices, longer spots or a combination of both – we’d speculate that since the House increases in price and volume were on par, that Senate ads are tending to chew up more time per spot.

Democratic candidates are outspending Republicans 1.5:1, but interest groups are favoring Republicans by a 9:1 margin.