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Republicans' campaign committee tells TV stations to set aside $30M in airtime for fall

WASHINGTON - House Republican and Democratic campaign committees have already booked almost $75 million in ads ahead of November's elections, stacking planned ads atop airtime slots already set aside by the candidates themselves and super PACs.

Republicans' campaign arm on Tuesday began telling television stations from New Hampshire to California to set aside a combined $30 million in advertising time ahead of November's elections. House Democrats already have booked $44 million of their own ads in many of the same races.

The big spending still might not be enough to tip the balance of power. Redrawn congressional districts after the 2010 census heavily favoured Republicans. Coupled with that, the party that holds the White House historically has lost seats in elections at this point in a president's term, and President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is very unpopular in many congressional districts.

House Republicans have 233 seats and Democrats have 199 seats. There are three vacancies. The GOP is aiming to pick up 12 more seats.

The bulk of the National Republican Congressional Committee's advertising reservations — almost $19 million — is for seats currently in Democrats' hands.

"Democrats in competitive districts will be hitting the panic button today," NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said.

House Democrats already have asked stations and cable networks to set aside $44 million in advertising time. Their spending reflects the significant fundraising advantage Democrats have built over Republicans. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ended April with $43.5 million in the bank and is set to spend that same sum on ads, starting in August.

House Republicans ended April with $32.2 million saved.

The level of detail in the House spending plans shared with reporters telegraphs which races each party plans to spend money on. The party committees cannot co-ordinate with allies at super PACs, but operatives can point to public sources such as news stories to ensure outside groups are not missing races or wasting money on redundant ads.

For instance, Republicans' top reservation is a $3.3 million booking in Denver. Republican Rep. Mike Coffman and Democrat Andrew Romanoff are already spending heavily in the Denver suburbs on a race that is among the few truly competitive ones in the country.

Republicans also set aside $3.2 million in ad time in Minneapolis. Reps. Collin Peterson and Rick Nolan, both Democrats, are seen as potentially vulnerable.

And the House GOP campaign also told Washington, D.C., broadcasters to set aside $2.8 million for the race in the nearby Virginia suburbs. Republican Rep. Frank Wolf is not seeking another term and both parties are eyeing that race as competitive.

Both parties' ad reservations can be modified should individual races become less competitive. But by booking the time so early, the party committee locks in a lower price and a discount of as much as 35 per cent.

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Follow Philip Elliott on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/philip_elliott

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