What is This:
This sheet will strive to keep regularly updated information of all outside group, or independent expenditure, spending in the 2020 Senate races. It uses the ‘Independent expenditure’ spending file from the FEC found here. This visualization takes all relevant spending on general elections only and categorizes it into an easily searchable and readable format. To categorize expenditures, whatever organization files must say who the candidate is and whether it is in support or in opposition. With that, I have divided it out into four categories of pro- or anti- a candidate and which party they are from.
How to Use It:
This map shows the total spending and the breakdown for each senate race by state. The darker the green hue to the state, the more that has been spent. The size of the pie graph also shows this. Within each circle is the breakdown of spending.
If you hover over a state, a window will pop up showing the timeline of the spending in that state and the total amount spent to get a better overall picture of spending habits. If you hover over one slice of the pie chart, it will give you the spending total for that expenditure category only.
If you click the tab at the top, it takes you to the chart depicted above. Here is a daily timeline of all expenditures currently filed. You can customize this view using any of the checkboxes on the right. Here, you can sort by category of expenditure or what state it was spent in. A drop-down menu under Organization allows you to see spending based on group. You can look at any of these factors on their own or combine them.
IA – $23.0 million, 56% GOP spending
Iowa is the top spending race right now because it is one of the few where Democrats have really committed cash, $10 million of it in fact. All of that has been negative by attacking Joni Ernst and her favorables seemed to have sagged in recent public polling as an effect.
NC – $16.2 million, 67% GOP spending
Republicans are on the warpath in North Carolina spending over $5 million to hit Democratic nominee Cal Cunningham. Recent polling looks good for Cunningham but if this cash differential keeps up and Republicans dominate the airwaves this could continue to be a close race and both parties have increased more regular spending here in August.
MT – $14.9 million, 64% GOP spending
While official Democratic outside groups have not given as much help, spending is nearly even in this race because of a large amount of spending in pro-Bullock amounts from the ex-Republican Lincoln Project. The Democratic SuperPAC SMP has been responsible for the negative ads against Senator Daines and Republicans just started spending again.
ME – $12.5 million, 50% GOP spending
Maine has seen nearly equal spending overall but it has been extremely staggered so far. In the month of June, Republicans accounted for nearly all spending, and a mix of positive and negative. Starting July 16th, it has been almost exclusively Democratic ads attacking Senator Susan Collins with only very recent pushback.
AZ – $11.9 million, 50% GOP spending
Arizona saw a lot of negative ad spending in the month of June but has been pretty quiet since then. A big $1.5 million anti-McSally expenditure came from the environmental group League of Conservation Voters and with VoteVets and Change Now jumping in, Kelly is getting a lot of outside help not directly from the party. Democrats have reportedly booked upcoming time in GA but it is very one sided at the moment.
GA – $10.3 million, 99% GOP spending
Georgia spending is dominated by the National Republican Senatorial Committee airing a lot of negative ads in the state with the occasional small bump in positive messaging for Republicans from the Koch-affiliated Americans for Prosperity.
CO – $9.7 million, 76% GOP spending
The Giffords PAC had a one-time expenditure of $1.4 million to hit Senator Cory Gardner but the vast majority of spending in this race other than that has been Republican ads going after challenger John Hickenlooper, virtually all from the NRSC.
MI – $6.2 million, 83% GOP spending
One of the few races this cycle where the Republicans aren’t playing defense and it shows up in the spending. For GOP spending from outside groups it has the largest share of help being positive ($2.3 million) for nominee John James rather than attack ads ($2.8 million) which dominate most other conservative spending. Additionally, there has been almost no spending here in the last 2 months, possibly signaling that Republicans don’t rate it as a high chance to flip.
Already we have nearly $110 million in spending by outside groups in Senate general elections and that number will only continue to climb. With this resource available, we hope to offer a constantly updating look at where the money is going and who it’s coming from in a fun, interactive visual that provides a key insight into the party strategy.