Spending Deep Dive: Iowa Senate


Written by Anjali Kumar

Iowa voters headed to the polls for the Hawkeye State’s Primary elections on Tuesday June 7th. Overall, Iowa saw $10.7M in ad spending towards its 2022 primaries. The Iowa Senate Primary saw the second most spending, with over 30% of total state Primary spending, as voters seek to fill the seat currently held by Republican incumbent Chuck Grassley, who came into office in 1981. In the GOP Primary, Grassley will be challenged by Iowa State Senator Jim Carlin. In the Democratic primary, three candidates are facing off for the nomination. The Iowa Senate races have been some of the more prominent elections in recent years, offering a great opportunity to conduct a spending deep dive

In total, we saw $3.3M across broadcast, cable, radio, and satellite in the Iowa Senate Primary. We recorded spending from four different campaigns totaling $1.94M and five issue groups totaling $180K. The highest spending issue groups were ($133K) and American Edge Project ($40K). Both groups aired ads opposing Grassley. Issue groups spending in support of Grassley totaled just $8K. Four issue groups supporting Republican candidates totaled $48K in spending while was the only Democratic issue group in the election.

Spending Deep Dive

Democratic candidates spent almost four times more than Republican candidates. The Republican Incumbent Sen. Chuck Grassley and his challenger Carlin spent a combined total of $492K. Democratic candidate spending totaled $1.65M, led by Iowa native Mike Franken, and followed by former Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer. Michael Franken leads candidate spending with $1.65M spent across broadcast, cable, satellite, and digital. Grassley came in at a close second with $470K. The strength and confidence of the GOP in Iowa is likely reflected through its spending in this election.

Spending Deep Dive

Spending Deep Dive

Overall, we saw airings of 24 distinct creatives. Of the 24, nine were broadcast and 15 were digital. Mike Franken aired 11 of the 24 total ads with 2,898 airings, a reach of three markets, and a combined spending amount of $1.5M on broadcast and digital. Grassley aired six distinct creatives with 614 airings on broadcast over the span of four markets, and a combined spending total of $321K on digital and broadcast. Finkenauer aired eight distinct ads, two of which were on broadcast. These creatives totaled 2,298 airings across three markets., aired a negative ad about Chuck Grassley over the span of 22 days with 155 airings, in two markets.

Candidates spent the most on digital with $1.039M, while broadcast was not too far behind with $1.037M in spending. Candidates also spent on cable ($318K), radio ($52K), and satellite ($44K). Issue groups spent on broadcast ($131K) and digital ($48K).

Now with election results fully in, Grassley despite spending so little because he was an incumbent, handily won his primary with 73% of the vote. On the Democratic side, Michael Franken pulled out ahead of Abby Finkenauer with 55% of the vote to her 40%.

So far, we have already seen $30K placed for the IA Senate General. We will continue tracking spending for advertisers ahead of the IA 2022 General elections in November.

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