Throughout the midterm-election season, Ad Age has been issuing regular reports on TV and radio ad spending for key political races across the country. As the tallies grew, we scrambled to find the right words—e.g., "astonishing" and "unprecedented"—to describe what we were seeing. Now that we're at the end of the road, perhaps "obscene" is most apt.
According to the latest Ad Age Datacenter analysis of data from Kantar Media/CMAG, TV and radio campaign spending for just 10 of the most highly contested gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races totaled $967.5 million and counting (from January of last year through Nov. 6, 2018, including advance bookings). If you're reading this after Election Day, it's highly likely that number may have edged past the billion-dollar mark.
Who's to blame for the onslaught? That depends. In Missouri, TV/radio spending for the U.S. Senate seat up for grabs is pretty evenly split between Democrats ($50.5 million) and Republicans ($49.5 million). But in Florida, Republican TV/radio spending ($83.2 million) for the Senate seat in play far exceeds the Democratic outlay ($59.4 million).
Then again, when it comes to Florida's gubernatorial race, Democrats ($93.8 million) have handily outpaced Republicans ($77.2 million). Note: Our tallies include spending by the candidates and their parties, as well as groups, such as PACs, backing the candidates.