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J.B. Pritzker in Chicago, on Nov. 8, 2022.
J.B. Pritzker in Chicago, on Nov. 8, 2022.Nam Y. Huh / AP

Mixed results in the midterms’ most expensive races

Ad spending data shows that the parties that spent the most money on ads in this election's priciest contests weren't always victorious.

By and

It's typically better to be the party that has more resources to spend on the airwaves, particularly in an election cycle that saw an unprecedented amount of spending on ads.

But money doesn't always guarantee a victory — the party that spent the most on ads in the 15 most expensive races for governor, Senate and House (per data from AdImpact) won nine races, with one headed to a runoff and another still undecided.

Here's how each party fared in the races that drew the most ad spending (NOTE: this includes primary campaign spending as well):

House

Michigan's 7th District: This was the most expensive House race in the country, with Democrats spending $20.9 million to Republicans' $13.8 million. Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin defeated GOP state Sen. Tom Barrett.

Virginia's 7th District: Democrats also outspent Republicans in the 7th District, dropping $18.8 million on the race to the GOP's $14.6 million to help Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger defeat Republican Yesli Vega.

Maine's 2nd District: This race has still not been called in part due to the state's ranked choice voting system, which requires a candidate to receive a majority of the vote to avoid ranked choice runoffs. Democratic Rep. Jared Golden is leading former GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin, despite Republicans outspending Democrats, $16.6 million to $15.1 million.

Texas' 28th District: Democrats spent $20 million in this South Texas race, bolstering Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, who prevailed over Republican Cassy Garcia. Republicans spent a combined $10 million on the race.

New Hampshire's 1st District: Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas overcame a GOP spending advantage to defeat Republican Karoline Leavitt. Republicans spent $16.8 million to Democrats' $13.1 million.

Senate

Pennsylvania: Republican Mehmet Oz lost this race despite his party outspending Democrats on the airwaves, $143 million to $124 million. Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman won the open seat race.

Georgia: The race between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker is heading to a runoff. Democrats outspent Republicans through Election Day, spending $137 million on the airwaves to the GOP's $118 million.

Arizona: Democrats vastly outspent Republicans in Arizona, dropping $134 million on ads to the GOP's $88 million. Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly won re-election, defeating Republican Blake Masters.

Wisconsin: GOP Sen. Ron Johnson overcame a Democratic spending advantage to defeat Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. Democrats spent a combined $100 million on ads while Republicans spent $90 million.

Nevada: Democrats outspent Republicans in this race and won, spending $97.7 million to the GOP's $81.2 million. Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto defeated Republican Adam Laxalt, the state's former attorney general.

Governor

Illinois: This governor's race was expensive despite the state's leftward lean largely because of the interests of just a few mega-wealthy individuals, including billionaire Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Democrats narrowly outspent Republicans $87 million to $82 million (including heavy Democratic primary spending that successfully sank the GOP primary frontrunner), and Pritzker cruised to victory.

Wisconsin: One of the top governor's races on the map, Democrats spent $56.9 million to help secure Gov. Tony Evers' re-election, while Republicans spent $53.5 million, including on a tough primary where the party chose businessman Tim Michels as its nominee.

Georgia: Democrats had a significant ad-spending edge here, $60.5 million to $46 million, as Democrat Stacey Abrams fell short against Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

Texas: A matchup between two strong fundraisers, Republicans spent more on the airwaves successfully securing Gov. Greg Abbott's re-election than Democrats did trying to elect former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, $54.6 million to $41.1 million.

Florida: Republicans and Gov. Ron DeSantis blew out Democrats and former Rep. Charlie Crist on the ad airwaves, $70.6 million to $19.8 million.