Elizabeth Warren hauled in $12.12 million and Senator Scott Brown collected $7.45 million over the last three months, ensuring that their Senate race will remain among the most expensive in the country and guaranteeing that both candidates can continue their blizzard of television advertisements.
The staggering scale of political fund-raising is unlike anything Massachusetts has ever seen, and ranks as one of the most expensive races in history, nationwide.
Warren, a Democrat, has collected $36.3 million since she entered the race last September, while Brown, a Republican, has raised about $27.45 million since he took office in January 2010, according to the campaigns. Add in about $7 million Brown carried over from his 2010 special election campaign and the race has already eclipsed $70 million in combined funds, with three weeks worth of intense fund-raising activity still to come.
The reports filed with federal officials Monday covered financial activity from July 1 through Sept. 30, which includes the period when Warren delivered a televised address at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. It represented the best financial quarter for both campaigns, each of which has seen healthy increases in fund-raising throughout the last year. Warren’s previous high was the $8.6 million she raised from April through June, while Brown raised $4.97 million over the same period, his previous best.
It may seem hard to fathom either candidate spending all the money they are collecting, but veteran political consultants said campaigns always find a way. The flood of cash is especially helpful in buying more expensive time slots on television — by far the largest expense for both campaigns.
“To buy the Patriots game, that kind of stuff, that’s costly and that’s a very difficult decision usually,” said Tad Devine, a strategist who worked in media buying for Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry in their races against Mitt Romney and William F. Weld. “Those decisions are made a lot easier by having that level of resources.”
The candidates’ bank accounts are now hefty enough to fund a sophisticated start-up business, which is essentially what each campaign has done. They have offices around the state and a small army of consultants.
The Warren campaign said it now has 130 paid staff members, including a battalion of 80 workers who coordinate efforts to register voters and usher them to the polls on Election Day. They work out of 48 field offices set up jointly with the state Democratic Party. The week before last, volunteers knocked on 70,000 doors, according to aides.
The campaign has also prepaid for television ad time in the last three weeks of the race — more than $3 million worth — before the rates rise again in the final days.
The Brown campaign said it too has reserved airtime for the final stretch, though it did not say how much. An aide declined to specify the exact size of the campaign’s paid staff, but said its programs to get voters to the polls will be the largest in state GOP history.
The Brown campaign also said it believes that Warren is spending money so rapidly that Brown will continue to hold a cash advantage in the final weeks.
Brown said Monday that his haul allowed him to enter the campaign’s homestretch with $10.2 million cash on hand. Warren has less cash on hand than Brown, about $7.3 million, according to her aides.
Devine said flush campaign accounts can also buy frequent internal polling, sophisticated voter data similar to that used by multinational corporations, and personalized online advertisements tailored to individual voters’ perceived beliefs.
The money has already enabled both candidates to run multiple ad campaigns at the same time, meaning a candidate can simultaneously attack his or her opponent while boasting of his or her own achievements.
Political strategists said the money spent on research can reinforce efforts on the ground. So when volunteers knock on the doors, they know more about whether the voters living in the house have made their ballot decisions and what factors may influence them. When talking to voters, they are able to gather more research, allowing them to target automated phone calls and direct mail fliers to the issues each voter cares about.
The money can also be used to fuel turnout at events — with better food and entertainment, for example — and to present sharper backdrops at press events. No detail has to suffer. The Brown campaign, for example, makes custom backdrops for many of its events. During an endorsement from a coalition of police unions last week, Brown spoke near a banner that displayed his normal red, white, and blue logo that read “Big Blue: Law Enforcement for Brown. He’s for Us.”
They do not have to scrimp at fund-raisers either. In August, Warren dropped $699 at Black Sheep Charcuterie in Edgartown, which offers smoked duck breast and artisanal cheeses.
Under Federal Communications Commission rules, candidates for president and Congress get discounted rates for TV ads, and preference for booking air time over commercial advertisers. Because of that, media buyers said they have spent much of their time lately negotiating with stations to replace ads for clients who have been bumped by political ads.
While voters may be experiencing advertising fatigue, the flood of spending in the election has been a boon to television stations. Advertisers have seen rates for air time on certain programs skyrocket, sometimes even doubling, because of the increased demand during an election year, according to Sarah McAuley, director of broadcast at Blitz Media, a Waltham media buying and planning firm.
Bruce Mittman, president of the Boston advertising and marketing agency Mittcom, estimated that broadcast stations in Massachusetts will take in about $50 million from political ads this year. Of that, 30 percent will be spent in the final six weeks of the campaign, he said.
Some of the big money being thrown around in Massachusetts comes from political action committees working in favor of presidential and US House candidates.
Brown and Warren, however, have managed to keep political action committees from spending any money on ads in their race since January, when they signed a mutual pledge agreeing to block them.Noah Bierman can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahbierman. Erin Ailworth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.