Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor, dominated the Senate race over the summer, causing Republicans to become increasingly anxious about their chances of taking the seat. Fetterman led Oz in fundraising and made headlines for pestering the famous doctor about his ties to New Jersey. Fetterman also had the airwaves to himself for weeks when Oz was blacked out on television following his close victory in the Republican primary.
Recently, however, Republicans have poured millions into television ads attacking Fetterman for being soft on crime, a charge he has denied in his own commercials, pointing to his efforts to reduce homicides as mayor of a steel town.
And the GOP has certainly enjoyed a television advantage in recent weeks in Pennsylvania. An analysis of data from AdImpact, an ad tracking firm, shows that the combined TV ad spending of Oz and outside GOP groups began to exceed the combined totals of Fetterman and Democratic allies in the week of August 23. . Republicans are on track to spend more than Democrats $24 million to $17 million between then and the first full week of October.
The GOP is also beating Democrats in that period in terms of total ads aired, as well as the number of dollars spent on advertising, according to AdImpact. In the week of Oct. However, on January 4, Democrats have booked more TV ads than Republicans, though new ad placements from time to time could change that.
Oz, a billionaire, is self-funded and has a super PAC that has backed him since the primaries.
Fetterman, who suffered a stroke in May, has been under intense pressure from Oz and the media to commit to the debates. In an interview with POLITICO last week, Fetterman promised to appear in a debate with Oz.
Fetterman’s campaign is not alone in its concern about spending in the Pennsylvania Senate race. Some state Democrats who are concerned about the recent rush of GOP money sharply question why the Washington, DC-based Democratic super PACs aren’t emptying their wallets in the state.
“The Democrats should spend on this because they will look like complete fools if they screw up this race, because Fetterman did everything right and put it on the line. And if they’re holding back because they’re spending money somewhere else or getting arrogant or whatever, shame on them,” said Doc Sweitzer, a Democratic media consultant from Pennsylvania. “A lot of these Washington groups are dumber than a box of rocks.”
Fetterman leads Oz by almost 10 percentage points in FiveThirtyEight’s public polling average, though individual public polls in the past month have put Fetterman ahead by between 2 points and a barely credible 21 points.
However, McPhillips wrote in the donor’s message that the election is very slim in the Fetterman campaign’s internal polls, describing the numbers as showing “we are neck and neck with Oz.”
Joe Calvello, a spokesman for the Fetterman campaign, reached for comment, said the memo “speaks for itself.”
When asked about the concerns of the Fetterman camp and other Pennsylvania Democrats, a top Democratic super PAC reiterated that he is investing in the race.
“As we head down the stretch, we’re making sure voters continue to see Oz for what he really is: a self-serving fraud from New Jersey trying to buy a Senate seat,” said Veronica Yoo, spokeswoman of the PAC Majority Senate.
Democrats remain optimistic about Pennsylvania’s Senate race, with Fetterman’s campaign seeking in part to raise money and perhaps lower expectations. In the Fetterman memo, McPhillips said “we have surpassed one million individual donations and filled spots in red and blue counties across the state,” but “[f]Other attacks on John’s record threaten to drown out our message.”
The closely watched contest could determine the party’s control of the Senate next year.
Despite historical trends favoring the out-of-power party in midterm elections, political forecasters have portrayed the national battle for the Senate as a toss-up or even in favor of the Democrats, in part because of the weakness of Republican candidates. . Oz has been criticized as a flawed candidate due to his problems uniting the Republican base.
The Supreme Court ruling that ended the national right to abortion also improved the political standing of Democrats across the country this summer.
But Democrats have long hoped the race would get closer in Pennsylvania, a perennial swing state where the last two presidential elections have been decided by about 1 percentage point or less.
Democrats also anticipated that a wave of Republican money, including from the Mitch McConnellThe aligned Senate Leadership Fund Super PAC would turn a series of Senate contests into more competitive battlegrounds after Labor Day.
Earlier this week, rick scottchairman of the Republican campaign arm in the Senate, announced at a Senate GOP luncheon that an internal poll conducted in Wisconsin now showed the incumbent Republican senator. ronjohnson Leading Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes by 4 percentage points.
A public poll released Wednesday also showed Johnson ahead, though by a smaller margin. Previous public polls had found Barnes on the front lines.