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More than $200 million has already been spent on ads for 2022

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.
Then Democratic challenger Mark Kelly prepares to debate Senator Martha McSally at Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona, on October 6, 2020.Rob Schmaucher / Pool via via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — We are just less than a year out before the 2022 midterms, but already more than $200 million has been spent on TV, radio and digital ads in all of next year’s races for Senate, House and governor, according to ad-tracking numbers from AdImpact.

(And that figure doesn’t include the more than $180 million spent on this year’s gubernatorial contests in California, New Jersey and Virginia, as well as the different House specials.)

Five Senate races — individually — have already topped at least $6 million spent on ads, including Arizona, where more than $20 million has been shelled out:

  • Arizona: $21.6 million
  • New Hampshire: $11.4 million
  • Georgia: $8.3 million
  • Nevada: $8.3 million
  • Wisconsin: $6.9 million

We’ve already seen five House races hit $4 million or more:

  • Georgia-07 (Bourdeaux): $7.5 million
  • New Jersey -07 (Malinowski): $5.1 million
  • Iowa-03 (Axne): $5 million
  • Michigan-07 (Slotkin): $4.6 million
  • Maine-02 (Golden): $4 million

(Note: Due to redistricting, these districts will change or have changed.)

And we’ve seen five races for governor approach or exceed $2 million spent on ads:

  • Illinois: $8.2 million
  • New Hampshire: $2.4 million
  • Georgia: $1.9 million
  • Nevada: $1.8 million
  • Michigan: $1.8 million

Folks, that’s a lot of money. With 361 days to go until Election Day 2022.

Kevin McCarthy’s silence

Yesterday, we wrote about the violent images and rhetoric coming from Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and GOP voters upset by Republican lawmakers who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Today, NBC’s Sahil Kapur writes about the silence — so far — from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

“House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has watched in silence as the Republican Rep. Paul Gosar tweeted a fantasy anime video depicting him killing a Democratic colleague and brandishing swords at President Joe Biden,” Kapur reports.

“He has kept his distance as some of the 13 House GOP lawmakers who voted last week for a bipartisan infrastructure bill have been targeted by the far-right, with one of them, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., revealing that he received death threats.”

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

11: The number of years in jail that American journalist Danny Fenster has been sentenced to in Myanmar after the military regime accused him of working for a banned media outlet.

9: The number of victims in the recent tragedy at the Astroworld festival, after 22-year-old Bharti Shahani died Thursday.

$5 million: How much retiring Republican Sen. Richard Shelby plans to spend to help his former top aide, Katie Britt, in her bid to replace him, according to the Washington Post.

46,867,218: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 54,325 more since yesterday morning.)

763,214: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 508 more since yesterday morning.)

Talking Policy with Benjy

Was Larry Summers right about more than inflation? Inflation hawks are taking a victory lap this week as price increases continue to prove larger and more persistent than the White House and Fed anticipated. And none more so than Larry Summers, the former Obama adviser who has an antagonistic relationship with many progressives.

Part of his argument was that Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus was likely to be an overshoot and contribute to short-term inflation that went beyond expected pandemic-specific issues like supply chains and labor shortages.

“What we infused was very large, and it was predictable that it would lead to excess demand and inflation, and that is unfortunately what has turned out,” Summers told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Thursday.

But that was only half of Summers’ argument at the time, and it’s worth revisiting the rest now, too. His case wasn’t just about financial capital, it was also about political capital. By spending $1.9 trillion on temporary measures, the White House missed a rare window to pass priorities that were permanent or pay out over a longer timeframe.

“If the stimulus proposal is enacted, Congress will have committed 15 percent of GDP with essentially no increase in public investment to address these challenges,” Summers wrote. “After resolving the coronavirus crisis, how will political and economic space be found for the public investments that should be the nation’s highest priority?”

In a way, both Summers and the White House were reacting to President Obama’s struggles in 2009. The White House remembered how they undershot the stimulus then (which some blame on Summers’ advice) and decided to go bigger than just about any expert recommended. Summers remembered how they struggled to pass any legislation after the stimulus and wanted them to use their honeymoon period to pass more of their long-term agenda.

That argument also looks a lot stronger right now as Biden’s approval fades, skittish centrists keep slashing Democratic ambitions for the Build Back Better plan, and the latest bill is more reliant than ever on measures that would expire without future Congressional action.

Summers is notably a supporter of the overall BBB plan, which he says is unlikely to cause inflation given its timeframe and offsets. Which makes for an interesting what-if: Would Build Back Better be easier to pull off now if more pieces had been offloaded earlier in the American Rescue Plan?

Adding more complex measures like a new child-care entitlement or a full climate plan probably would not have been realistic. But the bill temporarily patched up Affordable Care Act subsidies with almost no resistance. Could those fixes have been made permanent, perhaps with a quick Medicaid patch as well, leaving BBB free to move on from health care? What about refundability on child tax credits for low-income households? Or more straightforward BBB items like repairing public housing that had long been on Democratic wish lists?

Depending on how BBB goes, it’s a question that may be asked many times in the future.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced her re-election bid.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will not go to the signing ceremony for the bipartisan infrastructure deal despite voting for it.

Here’s how the Covid-19 anti-viral pills work and what that might mean for the future of the pandemic.

The New York Times reports that New Jersey Republican Jack Ciatterelli is expected to concede Friday.