Dems plan $7.7 million ad blitz for vulnerable incumbents

Holly Bailey
The Upshot

House Democrats have set aside $7.7 million for an advertising blitz in the final weeks before November’s crucial midterm elections. The ad buy, disclosed now as the party begins to reserve TV airtime across the country, will focus solely on protecting sitting Democratic members of Congress. It’s a sign the party is genuinely worried about an anti-incumbent wave this fall.

First reported by the Associated Press’s Phil Elliott, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved ad time in at least 17 congressional districts where Democratic incumbents are in trouble. The list of targeted districts includes those belonging to freshman members as well as long-established Democratic incumbents, including Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in South Dakota and Iowa’s Leonard Boswell — both of whom are facing stronger than usual GOP challenges this year.

A Democratic source tells The Upshot this is the first of what will be a series of party ad buys heading into the fall. But this first shot gives a clear idea of where Dems see the 2010 battleground shaping up and what the party’s most crucial races will be. That includes districts in Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, and upstate New York.

While the polls are bad, there is an upside for Democrats: The DCCC had more than $33 million in the bank, according to their most recent campaign finance report. That’s nearly twice as much as the House GOP campaign arm, which reported just over $17 million. In a race that will probably end up closer than many of the polls suggest, that financial advantage is not to underestimated.