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.
Democrats seem to be in a good position to take back the Senate as several recent polls have shown Democratic candidates leading in key Senate races and setting record-breaking Q2 fundraising hauls. In order to keep this momentum going, campaigns are ramping up their fundraising and organizing, even though – thanks to the virtually unchecked COVID-19 pandemic in America – those efforts won’t look at all the same this cycle.
Campaigns have had to quickly adjust their strategies in a world where in-person campaigning isn’t at all advisable. While we expect volunteer engagement to really take off in the early Fall, in this week’s Senate FYI, we take a look at how Democrats in key Senate races have been recently turning their major new $$$ into robust digital volunteer programs.
Trump’s favored Senate candidate in Alabama, Tommy Tuberville, had a brief stint as a co-runner of a hedge fund where he reportedly committed financial fraud.
A new Republican PAC, called the Plains PAC, is launching a campaign against Kris Kobach in Kansas that alleges that Kobach has ties to white supremacists.
Joni Ernst, who’s up for reelection in November, is starting to distance herself from Trump after his divisive rhetoric during his Mount Rushmore rally last weekend.
A crowd-funded poll of Alaska’s Senate race from Public Policy Polling found that Republican Dan Sullivan leads Dem-leaning Independent Al Gross 39-34, with 27 percent undecided. However, among those who are familiar with Gross, he leads Sullivan 56-36.
Democratic Senate candidates are boasting massive Q2 fundraising hauls pretty much everywhere. From what’s been publicly announced, here’s how much Democrats raised last quarter, many of which are record-breaking totals:
Barbara Bollier: $3.7 million
Steve Bullock: $7.7 million
Cal Cunningham: $7.4 million
Sara Gideon: $9 million
Jaime Harrison: $14 million
Amy McGrath: $17.4 million
Jon Ossoff: $3.5 million
Raphael Warnock: $2.9 million
Democrats continue to outspend Republicans on Facebook and Google in almost every race. Meanwhile, Martha McSally continues to significantly ramp up her digital spending to the point where she’s approaching Mark Kelly’s already huge spending patterns.
The DSCC continues to ramp up their spending, mainly attributed to an even bigger ad buy on Facebook of $600k+ . Their Facebook ads are mainly fundraising ads focused on polling for Joe Biden’s potential running mates and vote-by-mail ads featuring Barack Obama.
The Senate Majority PAC is ramping up their spending on Facebook as well with an ad buy of over $73k. Their recent ads focus on uplifting John Hickenlooper in Colorado, and they’re also negative ads against Joni Ernst and John James.
Sara Gideon ramped up her spending this week as well, spending $106K+ this week, up from last week’s $69K+, and she. Gideon continues to outspend Susan Collins by wide margins.
Let’s dive into how candidates in key Senate races have been using the digital space to fundraise and engage voters and volunteers in recent weeks. We’ll start with Sara Gideon, who seems to have adjusted pretty well to campaigning in the digital space. The campaign has actively advertised their virtual town hall events on Facebook (which they appear to be cleverly attempting to disguise as organic posts) and has made digital volunteer asks on social multiple times as well.
Speaking of campaigns that have adjusted well to campaigning in the pandemic: John Hickenlooper’salso seems to be fairing pretty well. The Hickenlooper campaign is promoting their virtual events through Facebook ads that use those same events as a fundraising tool. Prior to the June 30 primary, Hickenlooper made multiple volunteer asks on Twitter, and also put out this crisp social media toolkit for his supporters.
Mark Kelly’s campaign is also making volunteer asks on Twitter in recent weeks. They’re promoting their virtual events on that platform as well, specifically their events with Mission for Arizona, a coordinated campaign with the Arizona Democratic Party that aims to elect Kelly and other Democrats up and down the ballot in the state. However, the Kelly campaign doesn’t seem to have to run any digital ads yet about volunteering or their virtual events.
Steve Bullock is running an organic video on Twitter encouraging folks to volunteer with his campaign. The Bullock campaign is also promoting its virtual “Weekend of Action” on Facebook, which starts with a virtual kick-off call about how to get involved and volunteer with the campaign.
Finally, Theresa Greenfield campaign has been holding virtual volunteer trainings to show folks how to get involved in the campaign digitally, and is promoting their virtual volunteer program on the Greenfield campaign’s Facebook page.
In the run-up to the Iowa primary, the Greenfield campaign also held a virtual “Farm Kid Values Get out the Vote Tour” across various counties in Iowa, which involved holding Zoom calls with folks across the state using one of the campaign’s biggest themes. The campaign promoted this tour on Twitter and after the tour used highlights from it in an organic video on Twitter.
That’s it for this week! In the meantime – see any interesting posts, emails, or texts about the pandemic 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.