October 1, 2023

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2024 elections: Political ad spending projected to top $11 billion in 2024

The margins on Capitol Hill are tight again so we expect robust spending to be the result. The margin for House Republicans has come down to less than a handful of seats and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) can feel the pain of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as both deal with difficult governing majorities in the 118th Congress.

Control of the U.S. Senate will come down to West Virginia, Montana, Ohio, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin. Democrats are defending more seats in this cycle than in 2022 and Republicans are already looking good to pick up the seat currently held by Sen. Joe Manchin in West Virginia. Beyond that state, the Republicans’ opportunities for U.S. Senate control come down to beating two resilient Democrats in Sens. Brown and Tester from Ohio and Montana respectively. Arizona will be a three-way contest between the newly independent Sen. Sinema and the major party candidates.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin looks to be in good shape to hold the Michigan U.S. Senate seat held by the retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D). Republicans are still looking for a candidate in Wisconsin to square off against Sen. Tammy Baldwin and have just recently found their preferred Montana and Nevada choices. 

Part of the good news for Republicans is that they don’t seem to be in any mortal danger of losing any of the seats they’re defending. Democrats are looking to give Sen. Ted Cruz another tough race in Texas after Beto O’Rourke came too close for Cruz’s liking in 2018. 

Keep an eye on the California race to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein’s health has been in the headlines as it’s been steadily declining and the contest to replace her has three veteran Democratic U.S. House members from the Golden State vying for it: Reps. Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee and Katie Porter. Does this so split the Democratic primary vote in March 2024 that it’s possible a Republican makes it onto the November ballot?

In the House, the margins are equally thin and that makes it quite likely that the competition in the swing seats will be intense. The good news for media owners is that a number of these seats reside in the two largest markets in the USA: New York and Los Angeles. There’s already been activity against Republican freshman lawmakers in both locales as the Democrats begin to position themselves to take these seats back and restore their House majority that was lost in November 2022.

In the 2022 cycle, we had three House races spend more than $30 million. Those three were Michigan’s 7th Congressional District (Slotkin), Maine’s 2nd Congressional District (Jared Golden) and Virginia’s 7th Congressional District (Abigail Spanberger). There were 11 races between $20 million and $30 million. The total spend was close as our Vivvix/CMAG Competitive Navigator showed the Democrats with a narrow $50 million spend margin. The prognosticators have so far shown an aggregate figure of 40-45 seats considered as “toss-ups.” Twenty-four of those seats are occupied by freshmen.

The Democrats strong message discipline in the 2022 cycle focused on reproductive rights coming from the Dobbs decision by the Supreme Court. It was a message that served to limit midterm losses for the Democrats. Will we see much the same messaging in 2024? Early indications would seem to indicate that. 


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