With the 2020 Presidential race garnering most the nation’s electoral attention, without advertising data analysis, it’s easy to miss the key Congressional races in early focus for both sides of the aisle. Since the Impeachment Inquiry into President Trump began, issue groups have been targeting Congressional seats with a high amount of spending. These battleground districts are home mainly to freshmen Democratic representatives that, in the case of many, President Trump carried in his 2016 victory. Two groups, House Majority Forward and American Action Network, are responsible for the entirety of the spending in these hotly contested races.
American Action Network (AAN), a Republican issue group, has spent early and often in 18 Congressional districts that are represented by Democrats. In what corresponded with the early proceedings of the Impeachment inquiry, AAN went up on broadcast and cable first from 11/18-11/20, and they consistently spent in those targeted districts until 12/22. Cumulatively, AAN has spent $4.8M. On a district by district analysis, AAN has spent:
$461K in NV-03, $288K in MI-08, $266K in IA-03, $300K in VA-02, $221K in MI-11, $372K in NY-22, $266K in IA-01, $281K in NM-02, $190K in VA-07, $354K in ME-02, $315K in NY-11, $247K in UT-04, $400K in NJ-03, $265K in OK-05, $237K in NY-19, $243K in SC-01, $172K in PA-08 and $15K in MN-02.
House Majority Forward (HMF), a Democratic issue group, has gone to bat for incumbent candidates. HMF placed its first broadcast buy in October from 10/9-10/15, but that buy was in direct response to the RNC’s buy that also targeted freshmen Democrats in vulnerable districts. Since then, HMF has placed advertisements touting the records of their incumbents and they have also gone after Republicans in Republican held Congressional districts. In total, HMF has spent $6.3M in defending their incumbent candidates. By district, HMF has spent:
$475K in NV-03, $516K in MI-08, $491K in IA-03, $435K in VA-02, $486K in MI-11, $332K in NY-22, $425K in IA-01, $392K in NM-02, $443K in VA-07, $250K in ME-02, $286K in NY-11, $326K in UT-04, $165K in NJ-03, $291K in OK-05, $309K in NY-19, $206K in SC-01, $210K in PA-08 and $244K in MN-02.
Data intelligence shows that in comparison to 2018, the 2020 cycle for these hotly contest Congressional districts has already seen more outside spending. This cycle has also seen spending occur much earlier than in the previous cycle. During the primaries in 2018, House Majority Forward was not actively spending on any of the Congressional elections in which they are now heavily invested. However, American Action Network was active in IA-01, MI-08, NJ-03, NY-22, and PA-08, though they did not start spending until after the first of January 2018, much later than this current cycle. This is likely due, in part, to the impeachment inquiry, but it remains to be seen if AAN’s efforts also contribute to flipping these districts back to red.