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The Most Expensive Senate Race in the Nation

Ready, aim, fire.

If it’s not David McCormick’s campaign taking advertising shots at Mehmet Oz, it’s Dr. Oz coming at the former hedge fund CEO.

As of two days ago, nearly $50 million has been spent by the candidates, their campaigns as well as outside groups, such as super PACs, to run ads in major markets throughout the Keystone State ahead of the May 17 primary.

The figures, provided by national ad tracking firm AdImpact, indicate that the majority of the spending is in the GOP Senate primary – $40.2 million – while the Democrats have allocated just $9.7 million.

According to AdImpact, Oz has already spent $11.8 million on TV and digital ads, compared to McCormick’s $9.6 million. Add to that the spending by super PACs such as Honor Pennsylvania, a group that supports McCormick, at $8.0 million. Those kinds of dollars leave little oxygen and ad inventory for the other candidates, including real estate developer Jeff Bartos, former ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands and conservative commentator Kathy Barnette. Bartos does have the support of super PAC Jobs for Our Future that has spent $1.9 million on his behalf

You probably already knew that Pennsylvania is not an inexpensive media market. “The Philadelphia media market is about one out of every three primary voters,” longtime Republican consultant John Brabender told Fox Business

The Keystone State has seven media markets – Greater Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley (Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton), Northeast PA (Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Williamsport), Susquehanna Valley (Harrisburg-Lancaster-Reading-York), Central PA (Altoona-Johnstown-State College), Northwest PA (Erie) and Greater Pittsburgh.

“Because of that demand, the rates go up. It’s supply and demand. The stations can actually charge a premium this cycle compared to other cycles,” said Brabender.

The top two spenders on the Democratic side – Conor Lamb and John Fetterman – have already spent $4.3 and $3.6 million, respectively, leaving the third candidate – Malcolm Kenyatta – well behind.

Pennsylvania is in front in terms of spending on Senate primaries, but not alone. ​​Club for Growth Action, a prominent political action committee that works to elect hard-line conservatives, said it plans to spend at least $10 million between now and the May 17 election to boost U.S. Rep. Ted Budd in the North Carolina race to fill the seat retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr is vacating. Club for Growth’s future spending comes in addition to the $4 million it has already poured into the race. The group has not backed a horse in Pennsylvania as of yet.

The 2020 elections saw nine of the 10 most expensive Senate races ever. Excluding the Georgia Senate race, Republicans won all but one of the most expensive races and incumbents won all but two. The Kentucky Senate race between Mitch McConnell and Amy McGrath was the biggest upset in terms of dollars spent, as the Senate Minority Leader won by nearly 20 points despite spending $33.4 million less. 

Historically, however, the biggest spender typically wins in Senate races. In 2020, the top-spending Senate candidate won nearly 72 percent of the time, a two-decade low. 

In the same election cycle, the top-spending House candidate won 89.2 percent of the time.

5 Responses

  1. Let Oz and McCormick waste all their millions on fighting each other. That’s a major turn off for voters. Meanwhile, Kathy Barnette is gaining traction across the state. Unlike Oz, McCormick and Sands, Kathy is not elitist or a carpetbagger opportunist. Her humble background and strong stance on issues is winning support.

      1. Hey fake poster, get lost and go back to your mom’s basement; it suits you.

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