The enthusiasm surrounding the United States Senate runoff elections has reached a boiling point in the state of Georgia. Most people cannot turn on the television, the radio, or access social media without hearing or watching a campaign ad. According to filings reported by the Federal Election Commission, Georgia’s Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, each raised more than $100 million dollars.
Ossoff, who is running against the Republican incumbent, Sen. David Perdue, became the best-funded Senate candidate in history after pulling in $106.7 million, according to the filings, and Warnock, who is challenging the Republican incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler Loeffler, has raised $103.3 million.
Ossoff, who runs a media production company, spent $93.5 million during that period and had $17.4 million in cash on hand, and Warnock, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, spent $86.1 million and had $22.7 million in cash on hand. Meanwhile, Perdue spent $57.8 million and had $16 million in cash, and Loeffler spent $48.6 million and had $21.2 million in cash on hand, according to filings.
Loeffler, is one of the wealthiest members of the Senate, was the only candidate to spend on his or her own campaign, donating $333,200 — far less than the $23 million of her own money she spent on the general election run.
The numbers are accounting for the 60 days from October 15 through December 16.
The stakes have been raised due to the fact the candidates are now purchasing ads in neighboring states. Campaign ads are now appearing on local television stations in Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee, in an attempt to reach Georgia residents that reside in those bordering states.
“Any way you look at it, the money coming in, it blows your mind,” said Gregg Acuff, the general sales manager at WRCB in Chattanooga. “I’ve been here 25 years and I’ve never seen it like this.”
Why are Georgians seeing more campaign ads on television? It’s because Google and Facebook banned political ads on their platforms — two of the internet’s biggest — into December which forced the campaigns and super PACs toward television and, inexorably, making inefficient purchases beyond state lines. Meanwhile, prices for ads in Atlanta, the largest market in the state, have soared to as high as $45,000 for a single 30-second spot during a football game.
“Third quarter political revenue is the highest we have ever seen at Tegna, more than 200% above the last presidential election year, in part due to the recent strategic additions of stations in key political spending states, such as Iowa and Pennsylvania,” said Dave Lougee, president and CEO of Tegna. “For the full year, we booked $395 million of political revenue through … Election Day, exceeding our prior guidance of $370 million and almost 70% above our prior full year record of $234 million in 2018.”
Tegna owns Atlanta’s WXIA-TV, also known as 11Alive.
WSB-TV, Atlanta’s Cox-owned ABC affiliate, ranks first with $70 million in TV spending.
Republican super PACs—American Crossroads has spent $48 million, Senate Leadership Fund spent $47 million, and Peachtree PAC has spent $40 million—each driving home each side’s rhetoric as the calendar winds toward Jan. 5th.
CMAG reports $3.5 million in spending on national cable networks Fox News, Black News Channel, and MSNBC.
However, according to Kanter/CMAG, $342 million has been spent on local TV advertising in Georgia thus far in the runoff elections as of December 20th, with an additional $113 million estimated to be booked for the final days. $38 million has been spent on radio ads.