Recent polling shows Sen. Barbara Boxer maintaining an 8-point lead over Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, but major ad buys on both sides could change the direction of this race in the days leading up to the election.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has already committed $4.8 million to Fiorina's campaign, the maximum allowed in coordinated spending. In addition, it has announced a $3 million independent expenditure ad buy in California, negating rumors that it may have given up on the race.
The independent ad has not yet been released, but it will complement a new ad from Fiorina's campaign that paints a dark picture of California under Barbara Boxer. The ad, somewhat creepily titled "Crushed," was produced by GOP consultant Fred Davis, the force behind Fiorina's legendarily bizarre "demon sheep" ad.
Over black and white images of homeless, unemployed Californians, a deadly dramatic voice intones, "Trillions in deficits. Billions in taxes. Our hopes crushed by Washington. The legacy of Barbara Boxer." Fiorina's smiling face pops up at the end, promising change in Washington.
Boxer's campaign, meanwhile, has made an ambiguous ad buy of its own. Hotline On Call's Jeremy Jacobs reports that the campaign is planning to spend $4 million on the buy. As of October 13, however, Boxer's campaign had only $2.7 million on hand--not nearly enough for a $4 million buy. It's possible the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pitched in for a coordinated ad buy, but they have not responded to requests for comment. It's also possible that Boxer's campaign is counting on enough money coming in by Election Day.
Another possibility is that Boxer's ad buy is significantly less than $4 million--according to a campaign source, the Boxer buy will be less than the NRSC's $3 million buy combined with Fiorina's own ad spending. Boxer's campaign notes that they are on the air in 10 media markets, however, including Spanish-language ads.
As of October 13, Fiorina had $1.3 million cash on hand. Since then, she has lent her campaign another million of her own money. According to the LA Times, Boxer has outraised Fiorina by $8.3 million. Both candidates have benefited from independent expenditures by outside groups.