Political committees with ties to Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and former President Barack Obama are aiming digital messages to black voters in five states with pivotal U.S. Senate races.
The Senate Majority PAC, which is run by a close Schumer ally, and Priorities USA Action, which was founded by former top Obama advisers, plan to spend "seven figures" in Missouri, Florida, Indiana, North Dakota and Arizona, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The spending comes as Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, struggles to energize black voters the same way she did in 2012 when Obama was on the ballot. She faces a tough challenge from Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley.
In 2012, McCaskill piled up almost three-fourths of her landslide margin statewide over Republican Todd Akin in just St. Louis County and St. Louis City alone. The city and county went 69-27 percent for McCaskill over Akin, who had been badly damaged after a comment about "legitimate rape." The city and county, combined, were just under a quarter of the state's vote total in 2012. McCaskill won the rest of Missouri by 7 points.
Democrats behind the targeted digital messages say they are making sure that their voters will be enthused to vote in 2018, even though it's not a presidential election year. They point to the precedent of Alabama, where Democrat Doug Jones won a special Senate race last year with the help of black voters.
The latest Democrat digital targeting presses an advantage their party already had built in that medium. According to the Wesleyan Media Project, Democrats had outspent Republicans in Missouri's Senate race by more than 3-1 in advertising on Facebook and Google as of early September. But the amount spent on digital advertising in the Senate race - about $252,000 for Democrats to just under $72,000 for Republicans - was still dwarfed by the more than $3 million already spent by the two campaigns on TV advertising.