While the latest CNN Key Race Ratings show an overwhelming trend toward the Democrats — nine of the ratings updated Tuesday moved in favor of the Democratic candidate — there is one exception: Florida’s 27th.
The Miami-Dade House seat is open for the first time in three decades, and Republican Maria Elvira Salazar, an Emmy-award-winning television reporter, is squaring off against former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala.
Democrats had reason to be optimistic, given Hillary Clinton carried the district by 19 points two years ago. But the South Florida face-off is the only CNN Key Race designation to move toward the Republicans. (It’s now rated a straight “Toss-Up” after having previously been predicted to lean toward Shalala.)
While money often rules the day in politics, that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Florida 27th.
A look at television ad spending shows a Democratic advantage isn’t translating into comparative support. Shalala has spent significantly more as of this week on cable and broadcast spots — nearly $190,000 — compared to Salazar’s nearly $70,000, according to data from Kantar Media/CMAG.
Florida had one of the last party primaries in the country, on Aug. 28, and since then Shalala’s ads have run locally at least 43 times, the records show, whereas only three have aired since then for Salazar.
Despite the tight race, neither of the candidates has gone negative yet in their general election TV campaigns, according to Kantar Media’s data. They have exclusively been airing a pair of TV ads highlighting their own backgrounds but not attacking each other.
Salazar is seen reminding voters of her background as a popular Spanish-language TV correspondent and riding around in a kayak, while Shalala is featured in an upbeat setting with a bunch of schoolchildren with the slogan “Getting It Done For Us” and touting her past experience in government.
This being Florida, the land of early-rising and early-bird-special retirees, the majority of both candidates’ ads have been airing between 6am and 10am, with on a few in the evening hours.
On the fundraising side, it’s the same dynamic. The Shalala campaign has raised more than three times as much as Salazar.
According to the most recent federal reports filed in early August, Shalala had raised more than $2 million compared to Salazar’s $680,000.
The race may come down to a number of factors, but unlike some contests, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that campaign cash will be the deciding factor between the two challengers.