US Insights

Political Ads for 2020 Race Get an Early Start

Madeline Meininger

Senior Analyst - Kantar Media CMAG

Politics 01.23.2019 / 14:00

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Democratic groups won’t be shying away from congressional races.

Late last week, Democratic group Majority Forward began airing ads tying vulnerable Republican senators to the ongoing government shutdown and the negative impact it is having in their states. The ad buy totaled over $500,000 and targeted senators in AZ, CO, GA, IA, NC, and ME—all of whom are up for re-election in 2020. Senators Cory Garner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine, and Martha McSally of Arizona hold the seats that Democrats have the best chance of flipping. Already it looks like they’ll be the top targets of early advertising this year.


Using timely issues to hit vulnerable members of Congress is nothing new, but doing so in the first quarter of an odd numbered year is. As it stands, the 2020 election is nearly 22 months away. At this point in 2017, issue groups were actively targeting vulnerable senators on both sides of the aisle to influence their votes on Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court as well as recently nominated Cabinet seats. In both 2015 and 2013, issue groups waited until May to start engaging in senate races.

By invoking the government shutdown in their creatives, Majority Forward is filling a space that has yet to be fully occupied on the airwaves. While news coverage continues to focus on the shutdown, few advertisers have touched the subject and those that have were less direct in their messaging. President Trump’s reelection campaign ran an ad in early January that emphasized his stance on border security while criticizing Democratic party leaders—all without ever mentioning the shutdown.

From this round of early advertising, it’s clear that Democratic groups won’t be shying away from congressional races in the face of a crowded presidential primary. We’ve been expecting the presidential ads to start rolling early this year, but these senate spots are a welcome addition to what will clearly be an election cycle for the history books.

Source: Kantar Media

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