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The GOP’s recent spending advantage in key Senate races is only part of the story

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Mehmet Oz
Dr. Mehmet Oz speaks in Springfield, Pa., on Sept. 8, 2022.Ryan Collerd / AP file

WASHINGTON — If it’s Tuesday ... Hurricane Ian slams into Cuba, approaches Florida. ... President Biden speaks at the White House on lowering health care costs and protecting Social Security and Medicare. ... VP Harris attends state funeral for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. ... NBC’s Antonia Hylton moderates a Maryland gubernatorial forum with Republican nominee Dan Cox. ... And the 2024 Senate jockeying has already begun. 

But FIRST... The ad spending numbers in the Senate battlegrounds tell three important — and different — stories, according to data from the ad-tracking firm, AdImpact.

1. Republicans are now outspending Democrats in eight of the nine key Senate races we are following. 

Here’s total ad spending over the last three weeks (from Sept. 5 to Sept. 26):

2. The Senate Leadership Fund, the main GOP Senate Super PAC, is a key reason why Republicans now have the edge.

In fact, SLF is responsible for a majority of the total GOP spending in five of these states.

3. Democratic candidates are vastly outspending GOP candidates, except in Florida.  

Look especially at Arizona and New Hampshire. 

And remember: Campaigns get better ad rates — and thus bang for their buck — than Super PACs and other outside groups do. 


  • Kelly (D): $7.5 million
  • Masters (R): $9,000


  • Rubio (R): $5.2 million
  • Demings (D): $5.1 million


  • Warnock (D): $8 million 
  • Walker (R): $568,000


  • Cortez Masto (D): $5.2 million
  • Laxalt (R): $1 million

New Hampshire

  • Hassan (D): $2.9 million
  • Bolduc (R): $5,000

North Carolina

  • Beasley (D): $3.4 million
  • Budd (R): $711,000


  • Ryan (D): $4 million
  • Vance (R): $1.7 million


  • Fetterman (D): $5.9 million
  • Oz (R): $3.1 million


  • Barnes (D): $3.8 million
  • Johnson (R): $1.5 million

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … $5 million

That’s how much Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., donated to Senate Leadership Fund, the top GOP super PAC in Senate races, through his political organization. 

Scott’s Opportunity Matters Fund donated the money to the Senate Leadership Fund, an SLF spokesman confirmed to NBC News. The South Carolina senator has become one of the better fundraisers of all elected Republicans this cycle, and he is using that largess to help in the battle for the Senate.

But the donation is also notable given how Scott is seen as a potential future presidential candidate — he’s spent millions of dollars on ads in battleground races that feature Scott prominently.

Read more on the Meet the Press Blog.

Other numbers to know:

24: The number of Secret Service agents involved in the agency’s response to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol whose cellphones were confiscated and turned over to the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General, NBC News’ Julia Ainsley reports.

$400 billion: How much the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says President Biden’s plan to forgive some federal student loan debt would cost.  

40,000: The number of Russians who fled to Tbilisi since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. 

Almost 101 years: How long it’s been since Tampa has been hit by a major hurricane. Hurricane Ian is threatening to make landfall there this week and more than 200,000 people as of Monday afternoon were in a mandatory evacuation zone. Follow NBC’s live blog for more

$50 million: How much money campaigns and outside groups have spent on political ads on Meta (Facebook) and Google platforms in the last 30 days, per CNBC’s analysis

4: The number of people who pleaded guilty to misdemeanors related to absentee-ballot fraud that forced a do-over of the 2018 election in North Carolina’s 9th District. 

Midterm roundup: 2024 jockeying

There are some pivotal elections in Arizona this fall — for governor, secretary of state, attorney general and a Senate race. 

But the news out of Arizona Monday included some shadow boxing ahead of a race not on the calendar for more than 600 days: Arizona’s 2024 Democratic Senate primary. 

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., spoke Monday at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, where she was introduced by the eponymous Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell. There, the GOP leader called Sinema “one of the most effective first-term senators,” as well as “a genuine moderate and a dealmaker.” And Sinema defended her stance on the filibuster, calling for it to be strengthened, not abandoned. 

The back-and-forth prompted a barb from Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, who has flirted with a Senate primary bid against Sinema, who repeatedly tweeted criticism of Sinema, arguing that Sinema “would actually prefer the Dems lose control of the Senate and House.”

All just weeks away from a Senate race this cycle that so far has been trending the Democrats’ way

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Georgia Senate: Republican Herschel Walker’s campaign listed a woman arrested for participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, as well as one of the state’s “fake electors” who sought to overturn the 2020 election, as two of his campaign’s “county captains,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

North Carolina Senate: The Senate Leadership Fund is out with new ads in a handful of states, including North Carolina, criticizing Democrats for strengthening funding for the IRS. The spot argues that “Beasley’s gonna knock on your door with an army of new IRS agents,” using footage of police raids and special agents at a gun range behind the claims

New Hampshire Senate: Republican nominee Don Bolduc, who repeatedly made false claims about former President Trump winning the 2020 presidential election before walking it back after the primary, opined during a recent podcast that “the narrative that the election was stolen, it does not fly up here in New Hampshire for whatever reason.”

Pennsylvania Senate: Some Democrats are warning that Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman isn’t doing enough to win over Black voters in the state’s cities, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. And a new Marist Poll showed Fetterman with a 10-point lead over Republican Mehmet Oz. On Monday Oz picked up an endorsement from the Philadelphia police union, which also backed Democrat Josh Shapiro for governor.

Arizona Governor: Republican nominee Kari Lake is going up on TV for the first time since the primary with a new ad buy starting Tuesday, per AdImpact. Her campaign has booked $250,000, but also booked another flight starting Wednesday with the Yuma County GOP for a whopping $7.3 million. 

Pennsylvania Governor: The New York Times looks at how little Republican Doug Mastriano’s campaign is spending on ads, and how GOP outside groups don’t look eager to help him. The Marist Poll also found Mastriano trailing Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro by 13 points.

Michigan-07: Republican Tom Barrett is up with a new ad that links Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin to President Biden, arguing that on inflation, “the Democrat Party has gotten us to where we are.” The DCCC is running a new ad in the district that accuses Barrett of “trying to hide” his “extremist stance on abortion.” 

Los Angeles Mayor: Fox News reports that businessman Rick Caruso is attacking California Democratic Rep. Karen Bassin a new ad for praising Scientology. Bass addressed the comments last cycle when she was in contention for the vice presidential nomination.  

Ad watch: A Budd-ing attack

The Democratic super PAC Senate Majority PAC is kicking off a more than $2 million ad in North Carolina’s Senate race, launching an ad against GOP Rep. Ted Budd that highlights the Budd family’s investment in an agriculture business, which went bankrupt.

“Rather than paying back the small farmers what they owed, Budd’s family repaid themselves instead—millions of dollars, with interest,” a narrator says in the ad, which will start airing in the Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro markets on Tuesday.

“That’s the real Ted Budd,” the narrator says. “He gets paid while North Carolina farmers get screwed.”

The ad references a Washington Post story that detailed the bankruptcy and reported that “a trustee for farmers and other creditors alleged that his father, Richard Budd, improperly transferred millions of dollars in assets to his family, including Ted Budd.” Budd’s father Richard denied those allegations and told the Post, “Your attempts to tie my son to this business are dishonest and offensive.”

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world 

A high-ranking member of the far-right Oath Keepers organization who has been charged in connection with the 2021 Capitol riot exchanged messages in November 2020 with former Trump White House aide Andrew Giuliani about election issues.

Michigan Democratic Rep. Andy Levin’s office has voted to unionize and join the Congressional Workers Union, the first office to do so

As the Texas Tribune has first reported, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton fled his home in a truck driven by his wife today, to avoid being served a subpoena in a lawsuit from nonprofits that want to help Texans pay for abortion procedures out of state, according to an affidavit filed in federal court by the person who tried to serve that subpoena.