NC Senate race shatters record for money spent on advertising

The 2020 campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina features incumbent republican Sen....
The 2020 campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina features incumbent republican Sen. Thom Tillis challenged by democratic nominee Cal Cunningham(WECT)
Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 5:23 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina Senate race is so important to both Democrats and Republicans that it set a record for the most money spent on a single Senate race.

According to Advertising Analytics, $241 million has been spent on the race, which could determine the balance of power in the Senate. Incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R) has been here before.

“We were talking $114 million in 2014,” said Meredith College political science professor David McLennan. “How could anyone ever beat that? And yet, we are over twice that now.”

The Tillis race against then-incumbent Kay Hagan (D) was, at that time, the most expensive in Senate race history. Now, the battle with Cal Cunningham (D) is making history, as well, by breaking all nationwide Senate campaign records.

Democrats backing Cunningham have the advantage. According to Advertising Analytics, they’ve increased their spending from $98 million to $143 million — marking a difference of $45 million.

“You look around the country, Democrats are raising and spending money. And that’s really putting Republicans in a hole; not that they weren’t already having some difficulties because of the top of the ticket, but this money expenditure situation is very dire for the Republicans,” McLennan said.

Most of the money is being spent on television ads. Combining all campaigns and PAC money, $104 million has been spent in the Raleigh-Durham market alone. There has been $150 million spent in the Charlotte market.

“It’s just a sign that the money was already there and we would have seen different attack ads. Had not the revelations of Cunningham’s affair been made, they would have picked something else to talk about,” McLennan said. “It’s just an extraordinary amount of money in the race.”

No one knows who will win the race, but it’s safe to say the spending won’t stop for another two weeks.

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