The top super political action committee backing Hillary Clinton will begin to dramatically accelerate its advertising spending this week, which follows a rough patch on the campaign trail for the Democratic presidential nominee that included some slippage in her poll standings, a controversial remark, and a bout with pneumonia.
Priorities USA, which is led by Democratic strategist Guy Cecil, is booked to spend an estimated $5.2 million this week on TV ads, data from Kantar Media/CMAG shows. That's up from the roughly $1 million spent during the first week of September, and $4.5 million during the month's second week.
The spending surge, which was planned before Clinton’s latest campaign hiccups, comes as Republican Donald Trump has gained ground on Clinton in state and national polls ahead of a critical first debate on Sept. 26. It will be the heaviest spending yet in the 2016 general-election campaign by the outside group.
Trump remains in striking distance despite what has been an overwhelming discrepancy in spending between Clinton and Trump—and the outside groups backing them. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Sunday showed Clinton at 46 percent and Trump at 41 percent among likely voters nationally.
The three biggest super-PACs backing Trump have spent a combined total of about $11.7 million on television ads since the end of the two national conventions in July. Priorities USA alone has spent an estimated $17.2 million during that period, while Clinton's own campaign has spent $56.4 million, three and a half times as much as Trump.
This week's advertising from the Democratic super-PAC will be modest when compared to later weeks in September and October, the data from Kantar Media/CMAG shows. As of now, orders are in place for weekly spending of as much as $11 million closer to Election Day.
The group's ads are booked to play in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Colorado, covering two dozen TV markets and statewide satellite in six of those states.
“We'll obviously be spending heavily on advertising on television in battleground states to continue highlighting how divisive and dangerous Donald Trump is and how he's temperamentally unfit to be president,” Priorities USA spokesman Justin Barasky said. “We'll also be investing heavily in digital advertising to reach key Democratic constituencies, specifically Hispanics, African-Americans, millennials and women.”
For the campaign as a whole, Barasky said Priorities USA placed reservations for $117.5 million on television, and less than half that total has been spent so far. About $35 million in digital ad reservations have been placed, he said, with more than a third of that being expended so far.
“We'll also be on Spanish-language and African-American TV and radio,” he said. “We're really trying to talk to as many voters as possible where they're actually consuming media.”
For its part, Clinton's campaign is booked to spend almost $11 million this week on broadcast and cable TV ads.
As of late Sunday, the Kantar Media/CMAG data showed Trump had no orders in place for broadcast or cable TV ads after Monday (there can be a lag time between when orders are placed and when they hit the company's tracking system). Trump’s campaign Monday announced it will air a TV ad in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida attacking Clinton for her “deplorables” comment about Trump supporters.