Check it out, check it outers. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has decided to reserve some early ad spending in key races. This has the twin advantage of locking in lower rates and allowing the organization to sell ad space to other Republican statewide candidates if they choose not to air ads for their selected candidates.
Roll Call with the run down:
$5 million in Wisconsin for the open-seat race to succeed retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D).
$5 million in Missouri to defeat first-term Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), who faces an extremely tough re-election race.
$3.5 million in Montana to defeat Sen. Jon Tester (D), another first-term Senator with a hard re-election ahead of him.
$5.5 million in Virginia for the open-seat race, where former Sen. George Allen (R) and former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) are locked in a highly competitive contest.
$3 million in Nevada, where appointed Sen. Dean Heller (R) is seeking a full term against the presumptive Democratic nominee Rep. Shelley Berkley.
$3 million for the open-seat race in New Mexico, where former Rep. Heather Wilson (R) and Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) are on track to face each other in November.
This is the preliminary landscape in a nutshell. Other than feeling like my race ratings are fairly accurate I have more than a few thoughts on the NRSC's line of thinking.
1) Nebraska and North Dakota are in the bag as far as the Republicans are concerned. Democrats can hope to make the race competitive, forcing a last minute ad buy, but realistically Heidi Heitkamp and Bob Kerrey are going to see national money dry up for their races. The GOP expects to pick up both of these seats.
2) Maine remains a Toss Up because former Gov. Angus King is a wild card. No one knows which side of the isle he'll side with. As a result, it will be up to local Republicans to make this race close. Strange game they are playing in the northeast.
3) Scott Brown won his election without a lot of financial help from the national committees and, thanks to a non-aggression pact he signed with his rival Elizabeth Warren, he will need to do so again. Both candidates are raising insane amounts of money though, so money isn't really an issue.
4) The GOP candidates in Missouri have been struggling to raise money, so this news insures they will be able to get the parties message out. Campaigns aren't legally allowed to coordinate but a simple McCaskill bad, Republican good message should be enough. The NRSC has committed to bankrolling this pick up opportunity. The survivor of the primary should be fundraising to free up money for further offense.
5) Montana does not have expensive media markets, so 3.5 million in ads is a ton of money. The desired outcome here is for Tester's money to dry up as a result of the looming A-bomb which could be dropped at any time. Realistically, the law of diminishing returns applies.
6) George Allen has a few friends in high places. He received the largest commitment of resources. It also underscores the importance of this race in the battle for control of the Senate. He's not receiving full funding from the national committee though, plenty more will be spent on advertising before Election Day.
7) Tammy Baldwin's stellar fundraising just became essential. Five million is a solid chunk of money for Wisconsin and this could make the difference for someone like Tommy Thompson or Jeff Fitzgerald. Wisconsin is, once again, a swing state.
8) Former Rep. Heather Wilson is enjoying a nice vote of confidence right now. While her likely general election rival, Rep. Martin Heinrich, failed to raise a half million last quarter, Wilson just secured a massive boost from Washington DC. This kind of spending forces the DSCC to counter or risk losing a seat they think they should keep.
9) The final seat they spent money on was to protect Dean Heller in Nevada, to the tune of 3 million dollars. Considering both candidates have more money in the bank than this ad buy, I'll caulk this one up to a recognition of reality. Both candidates will be well funded and the race should be close. However, a relatively small buy should be taken as a sign of confidence.
10) Excluded from the list was Florida. It's an insanely expensive place to advertise and who can fault the bean counters for being reluctant to purchase time here? Connie Mack will need to demonstrate his fundraising chops here, as well as continue to build a statewide network, for him to earn the attention of prognosticators. Mack's challenge is flying under the radar.
11) Also excluded were Ohio, Michigan and Hawaii. If these races narrow, national money will flow their way as well.
Finally, of the 25 million in reserved advertisements, 22 million was spent on offense. After assuming a net pick up of two seats. Only 3 million is being spent on defense. This calculation is being made over six months before the election.
Organizations who are confident about their chances spend money like this.