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 all over the internet.
Cory Gardner, President Trump, and the RNC launched a joint fundraising committee – Colorado Trump Victory – and it’s scheduled to have its first fundraising event today in Colorado Springs, complete with a photo with the president for the low, low price of $25,000 per couple. 🤑
New polls from around the country are showing close races in key states. According to the Wall Street Journal, Susan Collins is about to face the toughest race of her career. A new Colby College poll found that Mainers are split nearly dead-even on whether they’ll vote for her or for her presumed Democratic challenger, Sara Gideon.
A new poll out of Kansas found that a hypothetical match-up between Democrat Barbara Bollier and Bond villain Kris Kobach would be neck-and-neck at 43 percent each.
Kelly Loeffler and Doug Collins share nearly identical approval ratings in Georgia. The new poll from the University of Georgia also found that more than half of Democrats in the state don’t know enough about Raphael Warnock to form an opinion of him. UGA didn’t ask respondents about Matt Lieberman, but it did find that Georgians overwhelmingly prefer Chick-fil-A over Zaxby’s or Popeye’s. The more you know.
By the numbers:
We noted last week that Sara Gideon was the first Senate candidate to spend more than $300k on digital ads this year, and now already she’s blown past $400k. And it looks like Gary Peters has started to spend seriously online – more on that below.
Here’s how much each candidate spent on Google + Facebook last week:
Around the country:
President Trump can keep trying to disrupt leading Democrats’ campaigns by campaigning in competitive states because it’s letting those Democrats line their pockets with fresh donations. Mark Kelly is no different – this week, he ran new ads and an email campaign that tried to fundraise off of the president’s upcoming visit.
Kelly also ran new Facebook ads to fundraise off of McSally’s recent attack ad which tried to associate the former astronaut with the GOP’s favorite rhetorical targets. FYI, McSally’s ads seemed to be primarily targeted at older Arizonans.
McSally’s campaign is also running video ads on both Facebook and YouTube featuring our favorite 🥴 senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham. It seems that McSally is trying to boost her campaign with this cameo from one of Trump’s most ardent defenders, but it remains to be seen how voters will respond to this truly Oscar-worthy dialogue.
Rocky Mountain Values + Conservation Colorado, progressive outside groups that have advertised online recently in the Colorado Senate race, now seem to be the two of the first outside groups to advertise for or against a Senate candidate on Snapchat this year.
According to Snapchat’s ad library, the two groups seem to have partnered to run some of the same ads to hit Gardner over his failures to protect public lands and coverage for pre-existing conditions. And because the Snapchat library is so detailed, we also know that the majority of these ads were targeted at women in the Greater Denver area.
The two groups have spent just over $12,000 on Snapchat, but because the CPM is so low on the platform, their ads earned over 5.6 million () impressions.
John Hickenlooper is continuing to bury Gardner in the snow with his digital spending. Right now, the former governor is running Facebook ads in Colorado that talk about the biggest issues in the state right now: health care, gun control, climate change, and energy.
All of these ads take users to the campaign’s site, where they’re first faced with a donation pop-up followed by an email acquisition landing page.
Before we dig in, here’s how much Georgia’s Senate candidates have spent in the past week. Former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver officially jumped into the race against Kelly Loeffler today, but his campaign is still too new to show up in digital ad libraries. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on his digital strategy as his campaign unfolds.
Despite the GOP’s best efforts to downplay Doug Collins’ primary challenge against Kelly Loeffler, the race is already getting heated. In an Instagram post last week, Loeffler touted her Second Amendment convictions as a down-to-earth hunter. Unfortunately for her campaign, it was quickly discovered that Loeffler doesn’t actually have a hunting license in Georgia – and the Collins campaign pounced.
They responded with a video of their own calling her out for dressing up as a hunter, as evidenced not only by her lack of hunting license, but also for hunting without a dog (smh). Collins’ video ends with a brief clip of him shooting a bird out of the sky.
It doesn’t appear that the Collins campaign is using the spot in their digital ads yet – he seems to be devoting his online dollars to fundraising for the time being.
Loeffler, who’s spent over $90,000 in the past month on Facebook ads, has so far avoided Collins in her ads and her organic social. That said, she has secured ad support from outside groups.
Club for Growth has started running action ads against Collins, calling him “D.C. Doug,” and Georgia Life Alliance, an anti-choice group, is running ads promoting Loeffler as a pro-life defender for Donald Trump. The two groups have respectively spent $59,224 and $98,512 on Facebook ads over the past 30 days.
On the Democratic side, Raphael Warnock is fundraising off his recent endorsement from Stacey Abrams, and Matt Lieberman has been trying to fundraise off of Collins’ anti-LGBT record.
In Georgia’s other Senate race, it looks like David Perdue started fundraising off of one of his potential opponents for the first time in the race. In a recent candidates’ forum, Democrat Jon Ossoff fiercely called on voters to make it clear that America will no longer tolerate the politics of the president or his “travelers.”
Conservative media took his remarks as a threat, and Perdue’s campaign was quick to turn them into an attack ad.
In the Wolverine State, it looks like Gary Peters is starting to spend some real money online. Last week was the first time the senator spent more than $1,000 on FB + Google ads, and this week he spent over $30,000.
It looks like Peters is spending most of that money on Facebook + YouTube ads highlighting his experience in the Navy Reserve, but what we really appreciate about this wave of ads is the sheer variety in his creative.
There are variations in the ad copy, videos, and graphics, which indicates to us that his campaign is actively testing which ads resonate most with voters. Well done Senator.
John James, on the other hand, is now significantly lagging behind on digital spending. For now, his campaign is running acquisition ads on Facebook focused on his son’s first birthday – and they allege that the president personally called to wish him a happy birthday. This isn’t the first time the James campaign has made his infant son the focus of their advertising, but it’s still pretty off-putting to us.
That’s it for this week! Have races or candidates you think we should watch? See ads or digital strategies that we should note? Send us an email! You can check out our previous issues on our website, and be sure to click below to follow us on Twitter.