2018 Midterm Election Political Ad Spending Set to Be Most Expensive Ever, Smashes Records

As voters cast their ballots on Tuesday, they will likely be having their say on the most expensive midterm election ever. The Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) projected that a record-breaking $5.2 billion will be spent in this election cycle.

In addition, the 2018 midterm election will have seen more money spent on political advertising than any other previous midterm cycle, CRP Committees Researcher Andrew Mayersohn has told Newsweek.

"This cycle has already smashed all the midterm records for ad spending," Mayersohn said.

GettyImages-1057825664 President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally for Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun at the County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on November 5. Political-ad spending for the 2018 midterm elections is set to break records. Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty

As of last week, the CRP estimated that the U.S. had seen up to $2.1 billion in media spending based on Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings, which Mayersohn said was "up substantially from the previous midterm."

The CRP has credited a "blue wave of money" as being the driving factor behind the overall record-breaking amount projected to be spent on the 2018 midterms.

"With less than two weeks before election day, $4.7 billion has already been spent by candidates, political parties and other groups such as PACs, super PACs and nonprofits," the CRP said in a post about its findings on its website. 

"Prior to this election cycle, no midterm election had surpassed more than $4.2 billion in spending when adjusted for inflation," it said. 

Overall estimated costs for this year's midterm elections would represent a 35 percent increase compared to the 2014 cycle in nominal dollars, which represents the largest increase in at least two decades, the CRP said. 

"The significance of this election is clear," CRP Executive Director Sheila Krumholz said in a statement shared online.

"But whether it’s a blue wave or a red wave, one thing is certain: A wave of money is surging toward Election Day, much of it coming from the wealthiest donors targeting this year’s most competitive races," Krumholz added.

While the organization said that Republican candidates are attracting donations at "record levels," a large part of the boost in spending is being primarily driven by an "unprecedented" uptick in Democratic fundraising, Democratic candidates are projected to spend more than $2.5 billion in this election cycle, while Republicans are expected to spend around $2.2 billion. 

Among those bringing in significant donations are Democratic candidate for Texas Senate Beto O'Rourke, who has raised the most money of any Senate candidate, pulling in more than $69 million in donations, according to the CRP. Meanwhile, his opponent, GOP incumbent Ted Cruz, has also managed to attract major donations, raising more than $40 million.

Overall, Democratic Senate candidates have raised around $513 million, whereas  Republican Senate hopefuls have raked in around $361 million.

The disparity is even greater among House candidates, as Democrats have raised more than $951 million, giving them a significant edge over Republicans who have collected around $637 million, according to CRP.

"In every kind of competitive race—even those in red districts—Democrats are either outraising Republicans or keeping pace," the organization stated. 

That includes funds raised from "dark money" groups, or groups that do not disclose their donors with the FEC. Majority Forward has been noted as the top dark money spender so far, putting more than $43 million forward in support of Democratic Senate candidates. 

However, the CRP notes that dark money spending has been down in this election cycle with nearly $128 million spent, compared to nearly $178 million spent in 2014. 

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