Monday, October 12, 2020

New: Virginia Political Ads Newsletter

Week of October 9th

US House of Representatives
Democrats Cede Ground Game to Republicans

Source: Federal Election Commission

In 2018, legend has it that on the Saturday before Election Day, Democrat Abigail Spanberger had so many volunteers show up that her congressional campaign quickly ran out of favorable doors to knock. The next day, Spanberger's campaign sent its ground forces out to visit the homes of people thought to have only a marginal chance of voting for the Democrat.

This year, concern about social distancing has led Democrats to give up on the doors. This has created an opportunity for Republican-backed groups in Virginia's 2nd and 7th congressional districts.

In CD2, the Congressional Leadership Fund has spent $200,000 to fund canvassing efforts on behalf of Republican Scott Taylor, who two years ago lost his seat to Democrat Elaine Luria. In CD7 Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by the Koch organization, has invested $150,000 in canvassing efforts to defeat Spanberger and elect Republican state Del. Nick Freitas. Both totals can be found in "independent expenditure" reports the groups filed with the Federal Election Commission. Independent expenditures are money spent to advocate the election or defeat of specific candidates without coordinating efforts with any campaign. 
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2nd District
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The last week did nothing to change the dynamics of advertising spending in the 2nd congressional district, according to TV spending data from Kantar Media. Groups backing Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Virginia Beach) continue to outspend those backing former Rep. Scott Taylor, who lost his seat to Luria two years ago.

On Thursday, Luria launched a spot that showed footage from a Taylor campaign event held indoors in June at which no one shown is wearing a mask or practicing social distancing. The ad cuts to a local COVID-19 survivor who calls Taylor "reckless." "Mr. Taylor... this virus is dangerous and sending you back to Congress would be too."
Taylor came out with a spot that seeks to counter questions about an ongoing investigation of ballot signature fraud involving members of his 2018 campaign staff. Taylor, talking directly to the camera, says he served with honor, courage and commitment. He chastised Luria for spreading "outright lies" that his actions are part of the probe. Taylor says he is focused on securing PPE for our health care workers and "keeping our family and community safe."
5th District
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Law and order remain at the forefront in the open-seat race in the 5th congressional district, which extends from the North Carolina line to Northern Virginia. The campaign of Republican Bob Good aired a new ad attacking "Washington liberals" for not supporting the police, showing separate images of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and Cameron Webb all kneeling. The ad touts Good's endorsement by President Trump, and ends stating that "Like Trump, Bob Good will never kneel." Good has run the spot on Roanoke and Charlottesville TV stations, and Facebook.
Webb, a physician, launched two new Facebook ads last week focused on healthcare cost and accessibility. One video depicts Webb -- wearing a white coat, with a stethoscope draped around his neck -- interacting with patients. A female narrator says that in Congress Webb will "balance government and free-market solutions to drive down healthcare costs."
7th District
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The candidates launched TV ads that featured testimonials from small business owners. Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger played the small business card first with a spot featuring the owner of Strangeways Brewing, who praises her efforts to fight a tax increase on alcohol production and to provide relief for small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A day later, Nick Freitas launched his own spot featuring the owner of a small restaurant linen supply company that is struggling to survive the pandemic. The owner says that Spanberger "has not done anything" to help the business he has spent 28 years building. He says Freitas "will fight for businesses like mine."
US Senate
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Daniel Gade has launched a new broadcast TV spot, that features a clip of Mark Warner from his first run for the U.S. Senate in 1996 promising to serve no more than two six-year terms in the U.S. Senate. Gade, shown watching the clip on a table, chuckles, "Guess what? Now Mark Warner is a life-long politician running for his third term." Gade says if elected he will keep his promises. Despite the new ad, Gade is still being outspent 2-to-1 by Warner on broadcast TV.
US President
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Last week, political ad spending offered no indication that President Trump had put Virginia into play. Trump's campaign has not aired any Broadcast TV ads in Virginia. Last week, data from Kantar Media (excluding Facebook) shows that Biden supporters outspent Trump supporters $284,000 to $85,000.
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Note: Ad spending data from  Kantar Media and the Facebook Ad Library

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