This strategy is wide-ranging and includes a number of topics and groups, with a parade of ads from groups like Americans United for Change, a number of labor unions touting Democratic leadership on issues such as minimum wage and healthcare and anti-war groups like Vote Vets and MoveOn.org targeting candidates for their support for the war in Iraq.
So far, the focus of this spending is in the key upcoming Senate races in states like New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota. The ads there are designed to put pressure on recent votes on Iraq, as well as serve the purpose of softening up incumbents for the 2008 race, when Democrats hope to increase their margin in the Senate. Recently, these combined efforts have amounted to more than $1.3 million in spending, targeting senators like Republicans Susan Collins in Maine and John Sununu in New Hampshire, and more than $1.5 million on ads supporting newly elected Democratic members such as Reps. Steven Kagen in Wisconsin, Heath Shuler in North Carolina, and Kirsten Gillibrand in New York while continuing to pressure a number of GOP holdovers such as Heather Wilson in New Mexico.
The ad messages are currently reinforcing key Democratic themes of change and a new direction in Washington that began in 2006. Thus far, Republicans and their supporting groups have made little or no TV efforts to defend incumbents or target competitive House and Senate seats. This may be a gamble when you consider the amount of ads and messages that will likely turn many of these media markets into echo chambers next fall.
These advertising dollars may ultimately amount to little more than a rounding error in the final 2008 ad spending tally. However, it may also turn out to be an important strategic investment as we approach November of 2008.