Monday, September 28, 2020

New: Virginia Political Ads Newsletter

Week of September 25th

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US House of Representatives

2nd District

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The saturation of TV ads beamed in Hampton Roads is driven by partisan groups seeking to influence the outcome in the 2nd congressional district race.

Broadcast TV Spending

On the Democratic side, the House Majority PAC is running three different ads attacking ex-Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach). Most of the ads continue to litigate a 2018 ballot fraud scandal that cost Taylor his seat after one term in Washington.
On the Republican side, the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) has spent nearly $2 million on TV time, more than four times the amount spent by the Taylor campaign. The CLF has run a string of ads that portray first-term Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Virginia Beach) as "Actress Elaine" who pretends to appear bipartisan while supporting liberal policies that would raise taxes. 

5th District

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The Republican groups that are driving ad spending in other competitive congressional districts have yet to invest in the 5th District. As a result, Republican Bob Good was outspent nearly 10:1 across all advertising platforms from July through late September. In June, Good rode conservative discontent to defeat libertarian Republican Denver Riggleman in a GOP primary.

With his limited ad budget, Good -- a former wrestler and coach -- tosses his son around the mat to demonstrate his aggressive opposition to ideas like defunding the police or the Green New Deal. He finishes with, "I'll put liberal ideas in a headlock."
While Good has mustered a total of $100,000 in broadcast TV spending since Labor Day, Democratic newcomer Cameron Webb -- bolstered by outside groups -- has topped $200,000 in spending for three weeks in a row. The partisan groups have run attack ads against Good, allowing Webb to stay popular, including his most recent spot featuring a testimonial from Carter Elliott Jr., a folksy cattle farmer (and Democrat) from Campbell County.

7th District

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The 7th District has the largest radio spending of any election in Virginia so far, with over $100,000 of airtime scheduled through October, all by the conservative group Citizens for Free Enterprise.

Outside groups continue to flood the Richmond market with TV ads. Last week, the National Republican Congressional Committee joined the fray with a spot that resurrects the "Terror High" charge brought two years ago against former CIA case officer Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat who flipped the district blue. Spanberger worked as a substitute teacher during the 2002-03 school year at an Islamic school in Northern Virginia as she was awaiting a security clearance from the CIA. The NRCC spot echoes similar ads run by the Congressional Leadership Fund in 2018, pointing out that several students at the school were later accused of plotting terrorist attacks.
The House Majority PAC launched a new TV ad this week attacking Nick Freitas on his record in the Virginia House of Delegates, pointing out that Freitas cast a lone dissenting vote on a bill that would require health insurers to cover children with autism. He voted against both the House and Senate versions of the bill, accounting for two of the three votes that year where Freitas was the lone opposition vote.
US President
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The Hampton Roads media market is feeling the spillover effect from its proximity to North Carolina, which is caught up in an all-out media war this campaign season. Politico reported that one reason President Trump touched down in Newport News for a rally was to reach voters in the northeastern corner of the Tarheel State who rely on local TV news from Norfolk stations. And while the presidential campaigns have steered clear of Virginia radio stations, Hampton Roads residents who tune into radio signals that originate in eastern North Carolina can hear ads touting Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Most of the spending targets Black voters who listen to gospel or urban format stations.
US Senate
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Spending in the US Senate election remains low compared to past years. Outside groups that are driving spending in many races so far have taken a pass on the U.S. Senate race, where incumbent Mark Warner maintains a comfortable lead in the polls over Republican challenger Daniel Gade. 
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Note: Ad spending data from  Kantar Media and the Facebook Ad Library

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