Welcome to the Senate FYI! Each week, we’ll track how the battle to flip the Senate is playing out where voters get their information—online. We’ll monitor spending on digital advertising, as well as watch how the campaigns are engaging supporters and voters online.
Sara Gideon gloriously introduced Maggie Rogers on the coast of Maine at sunset. Gary Peters pledged delegates to Joe Biden from Michigan, and Jaime Harrison did the same from an HBCU in South Carolina. These Senate candidates got a national platform, albeit a brief one, during the Democratic National Convention this week, but participation or not, with only 75 days (!!!) until Election Day, and there isn’t a moment to lose.
Even though the pandemic is still ravaging most of America, a few Democratic candidates are sticking their pinky toes back into the IRL campaign trail. In this week’s Senate FYI, we take a look at how they’re translating their forays into digital messaging.
In KS-Sen, Roger Marshall’s campaign recently put out a quiz microsite that compares Barbara Bollier’s positions and statements to Bernie Sanders (because who else?). Almost everything there is taken out of context, of course, but we have to admit that this is a pretty unique approach to the microsite tactic, especially since it’s coming from a Republican campaign.
Conversely, the Thom Tillis campaign is targeting North Carolina with Google search ads to promote a “fact check” microsite that criticizes Cal Cunningham’s criticisms of the PPP. However, they cite the Washington Free Beacon as a fact-checker just below the scroll, and frankly blue and yellow don’t make a very good color scheme, so we’re less impressed with this one.
One of the interesting trends we’ve noticed in recent weeks is the fact that Gary Peters’ campaign has been slowly growing their digital advertising operation, part of which includes a YouTube ad focused on Michigan’s cherry industry. The ad appears to smartly target agriculturally heavy counties in western and eastern Michigan.
It would appear that Majority Forward spent $0 on FB + Google ads last week, while One Nation is continuing to significantly ramp up their spending on the platforms. The Senate GOP-affiliated 501(c)4 is running a huge variety of video + static ads on the platforms defending GOP incumbents, as well as Google search ads targeting respective states to their site.
Last week, the Sara Gideon campaign spent more on FB + Google ads than they have all year so far. This was largely powered by a nearly $100k Facebook ad buy featuring an ad criticizing Susan Collins for accepting money from pharmaceutical companies, and on Google, they targeted this ad to Mainers outside of Portland.
While Republican candidates for Senate have been on the IRL campaign trail for months, COVID-19 be damned, a few Democratic candidates are starting to venture out into their states for the first time since March to meet in small groups with potential voters.
Most notable among them is Theresa Greenfield, whose state was recently devastated by a derecho that flattened millions of acres of crops and destroyed farms and homes across Iowa. In response, she’s been visiting these devastated farms and sharing her experiences on social media, and she’s calling on national media to do more to cover the aftermath of this storm.
In Maine, Sara Gideon has been back out on the trail since at least May. Judging by her social media presence since then, her campaign appears to be trying to show Gideon as traveling all over the state and meeting folks while still maintaining public health guidelines.
She marched in local BLM and labor protests, met with farmers, veterans, and fisheries outdoors, and continued her #SupperWithSara campaign – among tons of other things.
John Hickenlooper is also one of the few Democratic candidates who’s decided to get back into the swing of things at a distance with masks. Much like Sara Gideon, Hickenlooper’s campaign has been promoting the former governor’s outings on social media, but unlike the Gideon campaign, at least one of his recent trips out into at least once Facebook ad.
On one quick final note, Cory Gardner apparently recently ran pro-Trump Facebook ads everywhere but Colorado. In response to this honestly unsurprising news, Hickenlooper’s campaign started running fundraising ads about it on Facebook.
That’s it for this week! In the meantime – see any interesting posts, emails, or texts from Senate candidates that we missed? Send us an email! You can also check out our previous issues on our website, and be sure to check out our online dashboard for a detailed breakdown of candidates’ digital spending.