Top Democratic group unveils a $30M digital ad blitz

“We have to raise the stakes of the election, talk about what role they play in that election, and we have to give them the tools to vote,” Cecil added.

Priorities got its start as the main super PAC for former President Barack Obama in 2012 and for Hillary Clinton in 2016, when it watched Democrats get outspent 20-to-1 on digital advertising. It set out to close that gap, and has increasingly prioritized digital ad spending to mobilize and persuade potential voters. Priorities did not run television ads during the last midterms, in which it spent $50 million, and does not have plans to do so this time, either.

During the first year of Biden’s presidency, Priorities raised nearly $28 million across its three entities: the super PAC and two nonprofits. The group said that the total is a “doubling” of the amount it brought in during 2017, the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Priorities’ advisers noted that their targeted states this year include several House districts that likely will decide control of the lower chamber. After a loss in the Virginia governor’s race and a closer-than-expected finish in New Jersey last fall, the group issued warnings that Democrats faced swift backlash from voters if they did not advance Biden’s climate and social spending plans. The agenda remains stalled.

In a November memo, Priorities warned that infrequent or first-time 2020 voters who swung to Democrats and away from Trump might not only sit out the midterms, but were also open to voting for Republicans down-ballot as a check on Biden’s power.

“For a lot of people, their primary motivation was beating Trump,” Cecil said. “They’ve now tuned out of politics, and our job is to now tune them back in in creative ways.”

The $30 million digital advertising effort is part of an early wave of commitments from the party’s heaviest hitters as Democrats mount an uphill fight to retain control of Congress. On Friday, POLITICO reported that billionaire mega-donor George Soros was putting $125 million into a super PAC to help Democratic groups and candidates. Soros characterized his donation to the group, Democracy PAC, as a “long-term investment” intended to support political work beyond the 2022 election cycle.

“This is our first public commitment on this, but I don’t expect it to be our last,” Cecil said.