The same super PAC players also have plans to spend on television late in the season. Their last-minute spots often come as much-needed help for cash-strapped campaigns — if it arrives.
“It’s a bit like a chess game,” said Andy Stone, a spokesman for the House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC. “Certainly, every campaign has to be aware of the environment they are operating, but ultimately, they are the ones in control of their own message.”
There are no guarantees super PACs will spend until the ad runs on television, cautioned Republican media consultant Erik Potholm.
“It’s a dangerous game because groups can change their mind based on polling and cancel an order,” Potholm said.
That could create a worst-case scenario for campaign. If they front load their ad buys in August, campaigns could be poor by October — without any super PAC help in sight.
For that reason and others, Democratic media buyer Ondine Fortune emphasized that only some campaigns should start television earlier in the cycle. Incumbents and challengers start at completely different name identification baselines.
“If you’re going to go on early then you better have enough money to stay on or at least match your opponent . . . in October,” she said.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.