Senate candidates spend record sums on online ads – Center for Responsive Politics

Senate candidates spend record sums on online ads – Center for Responsive Politics

Senate Candidates
Jaime Harrison, the Democratic Senate nominee in South Carolina (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

It isn’t only presidential hopefuls spending big to get their messages out; candidates running for Senate have turned to digital advertising to reel in donors and further the agendas around which their platforms are based. 

Among congressional candidates, the top five online ad spenders in the 2020 election cycle are Senate candidates in key races — and thanks to online advertising, they’ve raised record amounts of money in this election cycle.

The highest spender is Amy McGrath, a moderate challenger up against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Her campaign has spent $7 million on digital ads with about $4 million spent on Google, with the remaining $3.1 million going to Facebook ads. McConnell, on the other hand, spent just over $4 million, about $2.7 million to Facebook and $1.3 million to Google. McConnell’s ads encouraged voters to donate to his campaign in order to “help Mitch fight back against Democrats’ attacks.” 

McGrath’s ad campaign includes a series of animated videos called “Swamp Turtle: Starring Mitch McConnell.” These videos portray McConnell as a cartoon turtle at the beck and call of the president, and a related website calls McConnell “the ultimate creature of the Washington Swamp.” 

Similarly, McConnell’s Facebook ads call McGrath “extreme,” and rally his base against “the mob,” which has become a common
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