Warren takes lead in TV spending

Holds 2-1 advantage over Brown in final weeks

Elizabeth Warren’s campaign put an exclamation point on one of the most expensive Senate races in history when it announced this week that it had raised more than $12 million over the past quarter. Warren’s fundraising mark blew away her previous high water mark, and made Sen. Scott Brown’s impressive $7.5 million haul look paltry by comparison.

Even before Warren closed the book on her record quarter, the Harvard law professor’s campaign was flexing its financial muscle. Warren heads into the home stretch of a heated Senate campaign outgunning and outspending Brown, a well-financed incumbent.

According to data from the Federal Communications Commission, Warren holds a significant $3 million advantage in broadcast television advertising spending. Since the beginning of August, Warren has booked $11.2 million in ads on Boston’s four major television stations, compared to $8.3 million for Brown.

In the decisive final weeks before the election, Warren holds a nearly two-to-one broadcast television ad advantage over Brown: From the beginning of October to Election Day, Warren has booked $5.9 million in broadcast television ads, to Brown’s $3 million. And that’s after Warren outspent Brown on the networks by nearly 25 percent in September.

The FCC spending data only covers television networks that broadcast over the air. It does not include spending on radio or cable television, but it is a useful proxy for overall ad spending because network TV ad rates dwarf those of other outlets.

The Warren campaign bought a $2.9 million block of network ad time for the campaign’s final two weeks back around Labor Day; Brown has committed less than $400,000 to home stretch advertising. Brown will almost certainly purchase more ad time as Election Day approaches, but buying early allowed Warren to take advantage of lower ad rates. Brown will be paying a premium for the same airtime, allowing Warren to deploy her remaining cash more efficiently than Brown.

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Paul McMorrow

Associate Editor, CommonWealth

About Paul McMorrow

Paul McMorrow comes to CommonWealth from Banker & Tradesman, where he covered commercial real estate and development. He previously worked as a contributing editor to Boston magazine, where he covered local politics in print and online. He got his start at the Weekly Dig, where he worked as a staff writer, and later news and features editor. Paul writes a frequent column about real estate for the Boston Globe’s Op-Ed page, and is a regular contributor to BeerAdvocate magazine. His work has been recognized by the City and Regional Magazine Association, the New England Press Association, and the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. He is a Boston University graduate and a lifelong New Englander.

About Paul McMorrow

Paul McMorrow comes to CommonWealth from Banker & Tradesman, where he covered commercial real estate and development. He previously worked as a contributing editor to Boston magazine, where he covered local politics in print and online. He got his start at the Weekly Dig, where he worked as a staff writer, and later news and features editor. Paul writes a frequent column about real estate for the Boston Globe’s Op-Ed page, and is a regular contributor to BeerAdvocate magazine. His work has been recognized by the City and Regional Magazine Association, the New England Press Association, and the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. He is a Boston University graduate and a lifelong New Englander.

According to the Federal Election Commission, Warren has also outspent Brown on printing and direct mail, spending $750,000 more than Brown from January through mid-August.

Still, it’s the gap in broadcast ad spending looms large in the Senate race, because in January, both Brown and Warren agreed to bar outside advertisements from political action committees and super PACs. Outside groups have spent on mailings, robo-calls, and door-to-door canvassers. But television ads, which have been a primary means of shaping voter opinion, have been left to the campaigns themselves.