With Election Day three weeks away, we’re rolling out our newest tool to help keep tabs on the large playing field that will determine control of the House: a spreadsheet that sums up the independent expenditures made prior to Monday by the four largest groups involved in House races. With this data, you can see which contests the major players think are competitive, and how much money they’ve devoted to each one, so far.
Before diving in, there are several important things to be aware of:
- This sheet only covers expenditures made by the DCCC, the House Majority PAC, the NRCC, and the Congressional Leadership Fund (HMP and CLF are both super PACs). Many other organizations have spent millions on House races. However, these other groups are largely focused on the same set of races as the Big Four, so looking at what the top four groups are doing gives us a good sense of the battleground while avoiding information overload—though there can be exceptions, since priorities don't always sync up perfectly even among entities supporting the same side.
- Even if a district hasn’t seen much or any third-party money come in yet, it could still get added to this list before Election Day. By the same token, seats can change hands even if there’s little or no outside spending—for all their access to polls, analytics, and other data, these groups are by no means infallible in predicting which races will be the most competitive.
- It also only covers past expenditures, which outside groups are required to report to the FEC. It does not account for upcoming spending, including TV ad reservations. Those are generally only available in (often fragmentary) media reports. It’s generally a safe bet, though, that most of these races will see continued spending all the way through Election Day. Some, however, will get triaged (or have already been), which we keep track of separately.
- Not all dollars are created equal. If you spend $1 million in Minneapolis, that will buy a lot more ads than the same amount spent in New York City, where advertising is much more expensive.
- The sheet does not include spending on special elections or primaries, or districts where total outside spending from the Big Four groups is less than five figures.
New independent expenditure reports keep rolling in all the time (groups generally have to file them within 48 or 24 hours of actually spending their money), and the pace will only quicken as we approach Election Day. We’ll therefore update our chart each Monday and note any key developments.