March 2, 2018
Political Spending in Indiana, Tennessee, and Texas
Throughout the 2018 election cycle we will be providing weekly analysis of the latest trends in political media spending. Delta, our proprietary political spending database, is the fastest and most accurate in the business. This allows our competitive team to provide the most timely and accurate information, giving you actionable intelligence before anyone else. These reports will highlight the most interesting races and trends of the cycle, highlighting information you need to know. Rather than get bogged down in the weeds, we will focus on one notable trend for each of the Senate, Governor, and House races.
High Spending Hoosiers
Indiana’s Senate race, long pegged to be one of the best GOP pick-up opportunities of the cycle, is the second most active Senate race in the country. A contentious three-way GOP primary battle for the right to challenge vulnerable incumbent Senator Donnelly is underway, while outside groups have already taken to the airwaves targeting the Senator. GOP primary candidates Mike Braun, Luke Messer, and Todd Rokita have already spent $3.0M between them in a primary in which voters will not go to the polls until May 8th. While these candidates duke it out in the primary, Americans for Prosperity has run $1.9M of ads attacking Senator Donnelly’s vote against tax reform. Democratic groups Senate Majority PAC and Majority Forward have responded by touting his record as a protector of the middle class.
Volunteering for Service
Four Tennesseans have joined the race to replace the term-limited Bill Haslam as governor of Tennessee. Though the primary is not until August, $6.5M has already been booked by Diane Black, Randy Boyd, Beth Harwell, and Bill Lee. Though much of this spending is booked in the months to come, each has aired an ad trying to establish their conservative credentials. As one of only twelve states in which President Trump has an approval rating above 50%, a trend to watch is how closely these candidates tie themselves to the President. Bill Lee currently holds a slight edge in spending, but with these candidates having raised just under $24M this could change quickly.
Texas holds its primaries on March 6th this year, earlier than any other state. This has led to it receiving by far the most House spending of any state: $6.8M across 15 races. The race with the most spending is Texas CD-02 where Kathaleen Wall has spent $2.5M, fully a third of all primary spending in the state. The winner of the GOP primary in this district is expected to comfortably prevail in the primary. Congressional Districts 7, 16, 21, and 23 have all seen over $500k in primary spending. Much of this spending has come from Democrats looking to challenge GOP incumbents Culberson (TX-07) and Hurd (TX-23) who are perceived as vulnerable. Democrats have also spent nearly $600k vying to replace Beto O’Rourke in TX-16 as he has left the seat to run for Senate. After TX-02, TX-21 has seen the most Republican spending as several candidates fight to replace the retiring Lamar Smith.