Over the last week, the Congressional Leadership Fund pre-booked nearly $33M in general election advertising. That is a hefty sum in and of itself and accounts for nearly all of the group’s $34M in advertising spend this cycle. The money is spread out across 33 markets in 23 states, but half of the money ($17.2M) is in just six markets: Philadelphia, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Detroit.
Since the corresponding ads will not air for a few months, we can’t say with certainty what races CLF is targeting this cycle. But based on the booked markets and race ratings by Cook Political Report, we assume that the top races include NJ CD-03, MN CD-07, TX CD-07, PA CD-01, and MI CD-11. Most of the markets where CLF is spending are home to competitive races with a Democratic incumbent.
CLF spent nearly $113M in the 2018 cycle, so the current sum is comparatively small, but we expect to see much more spending between now and November 3rd. In 2018, CLF began pre-booking nearer to the end of April. A delay in various states’ primary dates, and a general decrease in campaign messaging due to coronavirus, may have contributed to the groups’ fall pre-bookings.
Many of the markets where CLF has pre-booked overlap with markets that House Majority Pac has pre-booked in as well. We can safely assume there will be a strong correlation between the races where CLF is active and where HMP books spots, as well as the amount each group spends. For the key competitive races we highlighted, CLF and HMP have respectively spent $3.8M and $2.3M in NJ CD-03, $2.9M and $3M in MN CD-07, $2.5M and $2.5M in TX CD-07, $1.9M and $1.7M in PA CD-01, and $1.7M and $2.5M in MI CD-11. The groups will likely target each other’s supported candidates directly, and we expect both to try and outpace each other’s spending in competitive markets and saturate voters with their respective messages.