Written by Sydney Beckham

In 2018, Florida’s Senate race was the only Senate race to surpass $100M in spending. However, this midterm cycle looks quite different. The state's 2022 spending looks quite different thus far, failing to meet the pace of 2018’s midterm expenditures. This cycle's Florida primary spending is less than half what we tracked during 2018 primaries: $80M to $180M.

Leading up to the 2018 midterms (between primary and general spending), Florida saw $497M across all media types. According to our Updated 2021-2022 Political Spending Projections, Florida is expected to see $50M less ($447M) in the 2022 cycle, dropping $266M from our previous projections. We have already recorded $92M toward the 2022 midterm elections (primary and general) in the state, making this an interesting primary spending analysis.

Primary Spending Analysis

Based on pre-booked spending that has been placed so far this year in Florida primaries, there appears to be a decrease in spending volume for the 2022 cycle. So far, September, October, and November have scheduled just $7.8M to date. Overall spending in those three months in 2018, reached over $312M.

The large decrease in spending for the 2022 midterms could be a result of the 2020 redistricting process. The GOP led process gave Republicans the advantage in three additional districts. Going into the midterms, Republicans will have the edge in at least 18 out of Florida’s 28 districts. Democrats spent $9M less than Republicans ($43M to $34M) during the primary election. In Florida Congressional races, primary spending totals $20M with Republicans spending three times democrats, $15M to $5M.

In comparison to 2018 spending, House races were the only of House, Senate, and Governor races to see more spending in 2022. We have seen the most primary spending towards the Florida Senate race in 2022, with $25M, which is still almost half what we saw in 2018. The gubernatorial primary has seen less than seven times the amount of spending than recorded in 2018 ($112M to $20M).

Out of the twelve media markets in the state of Florida, we have seen the greatest spending numbers in Tampa ($34M), Orlando ($24M), and Miami ($21M). Florida’s 13th and 15th Congressional Districts border Tampa and are each listed as competitive, but likely Republican districts by The Cook Political Report. District 13 is an open seat, and District 15 is a new district. Orlando and Miami saw the most money in the Senate and Gubernatorial races, with Orlando recording $4M for each and Miami recording $3M in each race.

Primary Spending Analysis

The Florida primaries that saw the most spending were in the Senate and Governor races. The FL Senate 2022 Primary reached $29M in spending, with Democrats outspending Republicans $22.6M to $6.5M. The Governor’s race combined for a total of $21M across all media types. The House districts that saw the most spending were Florida’s 7th and 13th Congressional Districts, both of which are listed as competitive, but likely Republican, districts in Cook Political Report. Both districts recorded more than double the Republican spending as Democrat spending.

Another primary that gathered a sizable amount of money was the FL Commissioner of Agriculture primary, showing $4.7M. With Florida’s current Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried (D), running for Governor, the seat is up for grabs. All spending in the race was in favor of Wilton Simpson (R), who is endorsed by Governor Ron DeSantis and former President Trump. Simpson only spent $30K out of his own campaign, but had almost $4.7M spent in favor of him through the PACs FRSCC, Grow Florida, and RSLC.

In conjunction with the races that saw the most money, the highest spending candidate advertisers were all spending in Senate and Governor. Candidate advertisers in total, spent $55M. Democrat Val Demings led the group, spending over $22M across broadcast, cable, digital, and radio media types in her bid for FL Senate. Demings is ahead in the polls against her four Democratic challengers, of whom we have only seen spending from Brian Rush ($126K). Current Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), who already advanced to the general election in November, spent $4M on ads before the primary election. Charlie Crist (D) spent a total of $5.6M between two advertisers, Crist for FL Governor and Friends of Charlie Crist.

Issue groups spent almost $28M leading up to the primary. The top spending issue group, Grow Florida, spent $3M on ads in support of Wilton Simpson for FL Agriculture Commissioner. Progress Pinellas PAC spent almost $2M supporting Eric Lynn (D), who is running in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. While we have not seen comparable spending amounts to 2018, Florida is still projected to see almost $450M this cycle. We will continue to track spending in Florida races moving into the November general election

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