Welcome to The Senate FYI, where we track the digital battle for the U.S. Senate. Each week, we take a look at who’s up and who’s down in competitive Senate races across the county, and how it’s playing online.
With just 263 days to go until election day, the Senate races are heating up. Sen. Martha McSally is seeing backlash from her constituents, and GOP candidates hoping to challenge Sen. Doug Jones in Alabama are going all out to tout their positive relationships with the president. Let’s take a closer look how the Senate races are playing out online.
In the news:
The U.S. Senate primary in Texas remains unsettled, with a series of recent polls showing none of the Democratic candidates – including DSCC-endorsed MJ Hegar – breaking out from the pack.
The NRSC has asked Rep. Doug Collins’ prospective vendors not to work against the re-election efforts of Sen. Kelly Loeffler, which lead to multiple vendors and staffers leaving Rep. Collins’ campaign.
By the numbers:
While most Democratic candidates continue to soar past their opponents in the digital spend game, it’s Democratic challenger Sara Gideon in Maine who appears to be the first to spend over $300k in 2020.
… and here’s how much leading candidates in six key races spent on Google + Facebook last week:
Around the country:
Sen. Gary Peters may have spent less $$ on Facebook + Google than Democratic candidates in other states, but he has ever so slightly increased his Facebook spending this past week.
Peters has multiple video ads running that discuss his career in the Navy Reserve and how that experience led him to pass legislation that helps our vets. And while Peters increased his spending online, it looks like Republican John James’ campaign doesn’t seem to be running much of anything this week.
Outside groups are also supporting Peters with digital ads of their own. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan are thanking Peters for his support of reproductive health care, an issue that’s currently being fought for in the Michigan state legislature.
Captain Mark Kelly’s campaign has started running email acquisition ads around the recent 10-year anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC. In the ads, Kelly criticizes the decision and asks viewers to sign a petition against the ruling.
Sen. Martha McSally appears to have hit the snooze button on new creative while outside liberal groups continue to attack her and boost Kelly’s fundraising. These attack ads add to recent public criticism of McSally, exhibited by a recent protest Arizonans held outside McSally’s Phoenix office after her vote to acquit President Donald Trump.
Amy Klobuchar is helping former Gov. John Hickenlooper fundraise for his Senate run. On Tuesday, the presidential candidate ghost-wrote an email to the former presidential candidate’s list asking for donations, in which she calls Colorado a “must-win” if Democrats want to take back the Senate.
Hickenlooper also started running fundraising ads nationwide about Trump’s trip to Colorado Springs next week, implying that Gardner can’t win without the president’s personal support.
As Sara Gideon leads Democratic candidates in online spending, she has a pretty clear theme to her digital ads right now, slamming Sen. Susan Collins for her unwavering allegiance to Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.
Collins’ recent Facebook ads, on the other hand, are trying to paint the senator as a bipartisan workhorse in an attempt to fundraise. But FYI, she votes with Trump about two-thirds of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight’s vote tracker. 🙄
That said, Collins has taken up the chance to attack Gideon. For the past few weeks, her campaign has been accusing Gideon of taking PAC money.
Last week, CNN reported that a Republican PAC, Faith and Power, was going to spend nearly $2 million on TV and radio ads supporting a candidate in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary, State Sen. Erica Smith – and it looks like they’re dipping their toes into online spending too.
In the past few days, they’ve spent about $2,500 on Facebook ads that call Smith the race’s “only real progressive.” Smith is seen as an underdog in the primary considering Cal Cunningham’s DSCC endorsement, this just seems like a pretty brazen attempt by Republicans to disrupt the Senate race in the state. 🤮
FYI, Smith has rejected the campaign, and Cunningham has turned it into a line of attack in a recent ad against Sen. Thom Tillis.
The GOP Senate primary in Alabama has multiple candidates running, including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Roy Moore (BIG yikes), Rep. Bradley Byrne, and former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville. Sessions, who was the first sitting senator to support Trump’s 2016 election campaign, is in some hot water with the president. In a state where the GOP politicians have to “fall on your sword for the president,” all of the candidates will be battling it out for Trump’s endorsement.
Unsurprisingly, the candidates are using their online ads to tout their standing with the big boss in the White House. So far, Byrne is spending the most out of his opponents with $3,842 on Facebook last week.
Tuberville, who spent $2,123 on Facebook last week is also running ads attacking Jones over impeachment in order to fundraise.
…and Sessions, on the other hand, has only spent $1,367 on Facebook and does not have any ads running about Trump. His campaign instead runs ads on how socialism controls Jones.
We’ll be sure to keep an eye on ‘Bama’s GOP digital ad game in the coming weeks as the president considers his options.
Meanwhile, Doug Jones spent $76,202 this past week on Facebook and Google, running ads portraying himself as the underdog who’s “under attack for doing what’s right” on impeachment in order to fundraise.
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! Forward this email to a few friends, and be sure to follow @anotheracronym on Twitter!