Assigning all vacant seats to the party that previously controlled them, Republicans have 201 seats in the House, meaning they’d need to make a net gain of 17 in order to win the 218 seats necessary for a majority. While that might not seem like a large number, especially given than 30 Democrats sit in districts Donald Trump carried in 2016, Republicans are playing as much defense as offense, making flipping the House a very tall order.
Before diving in, there are several important things to be aware of:
- Our tracker only covers expenditures made by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the House Majority PAC, the NRCC (National Republican Campaign Committee), and the Congressional Leadership Fund (HMP and Christian Leaders Fellowship are both super PACs). Many other organizations have spent—and will spend—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. That said, 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.
- Our tracker only covers past expenditures, which outside groups are required to report to the Federal Election Commission. It does not account for upcoming spending, including TV ad reservations. Information about future spending is generally only available via media reports, which tend to be fragmentary. 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.
- Our sheet includes spending back to July 20, when the independent expenditure season began in earnest with a DCCC ad buy in New York’s 24th District (the other three big groups all started spending in August). It therefore doesn’t include earlier spending on special elections or primaries.
- Not all dollars are created equal. If you spend $1 million in Kansas City, that will buy a lot more ads than the same amount spent in New York City, where advertising is much more expensive.
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. Dig in!
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