TV ad spending more for Dems Casten, Underwood than GOP Roskam, Hultgren

SHARE TV ad spending more for Dems Casten, Underwood than GOP Roskam, Hultgren

6th District Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam (l) Democrat (r) Sean Casten | Sun-Times photos

WASHINGTON – More television ad money is being spent to elect Democrats Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood than for their GOP opponents, Reps. Peter Roskam and Randy Hultgren, according to an analysis of broadcast and cable buys obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The 6th District battle between Casten and Roskam has been a top-tier contest since the beginning, with Roskam a target because Democrat Hillary Clinton won the suburban district in 2016.

Combined, some $14.1 million in television ads has been spent through Sunday to elect either Roskam or Casten. That’s $7.6 million on Casten, and $6.5 million for Roskam.

A few months ago, the political landscape expanded, putting the 14th District on the radar – a reason for the sharp television spending disparities.

In all, some $3.6  million in television spots has been spent through Sunday to elect either Hultgren or Underwood. That’s $905,000 for Hultgren, and $2.7 million for Underwood.

The races in the 6th and the 14th, which takes in Chicago suburbs and reaches northwest to include the Rockford media market, are the biggest in the Chicago area.

Democrats need to flip 23 seats (out of 435) to win control of the U.S. House on Nov. 6.

The Sun-Times was provided information by a source tracking television spending, public information stations must disclose.

The totals reflect money spent directly by the campaigns and cash outlays by outside players. The totals do not separate out whether the spending to elect the four candidates is on positive or negative spots.

Broadcast ad buys are analyzed by not only the direct spending but how many rating points are purchased.

For cable, the spending is analyzed by how many times spots run. Because there are so many cable channels, the cumulative numbers get quite high over time.

Outside groups are spending money in these districts on digital advertising, direct mail, and ground game and turnout operations, which is not counted in these television buy reports.


Ads to elect Roskam, total spending, $6.5 million, all in the Chicago market.

Broadcast, $1.9 million with 3,508 rating points.

Cable, $4.5 million with 106,469 cumulative spots.

Television money to elect Roskam comes mostly from his campaign, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and its close ally, the Congressional Leadership Fund.

Outside groups spending on Roskam preferred cable: the American Hospital Association PAC, the American Chemistry Council and the American Action Network (AAN), a non-profit headed by former Republican Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman.

Though officially independent, the AAN spending goes toward electing Republicans. The AAN, which does not disclose its donors, spent $863,856 for cable.

Ads to elect Casten, total spending , $7.6 million.

Broadcast, $4.6 million with 7,283 rating points.

Cable, $3 million, with 79,627 cumulative spots.

Television money to send Casten to Congress comes mainly from his campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and its close ally, the House Majority PAC. The DCCC also paid about $61,000 to reach voters who cut cable – buying time on satellite and streaming providers such as Hulu and Amazon.

Reaching the cord cutters will become increasingly more important in paid political advertising.

Outside groups buying television time for Casten are the Kane County Democrats, with a small cable buy by a coalition of Democratic-allied groups, the Not One Penny group, whose backers, disclosed at, include organized labor. Not One Penny spent $25,540 on broadcast and $119,375 on cable.


Ads to elect Hultgren, total spending, $905,000, all in the Chicago market.

Broadcast, $219,795 with 427 rating points.

Cable, $685,332 with 24,542 cumulative spots.

Spending to elect Hultgren came from his campaign and the NRCC.

Ads to elect Underwood, total spending , $2.7 million in the Chicago market plus $2,400 , mainly for Rockford market cable.

Broadcast, $1.6 million with 2,658 rating points.

Cable, $1.1 million, with 17,830 cumulative spots.

Ads to elect Underwood were paid for by her campaign, the DCCC and the House Majority PAC.

Roskam and Casten appear together Monday at a 7 p.m. WTTW (Channel 11) forum also streamed live on Facebook and YouTube.

Learn more about Roskam and Casten, including their views on issues, in the Sun-Times Election Voting guide.


Roskam campaigns with Scalise

Underwood, Casten outraise Hultgren, Roskam in third quarter

Democratic poll puts Casten ahead

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