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Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is outspending Carlos Curbelo on TV. Will it pay off?



Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has been running against Carlos Curbelo for more than a year, but the last three weeks could prove pivotal in her quest to unseat one of the Republican Party’s strongest candidates.

Mucarsel-Powell and her Democratic allies are spending around $1 million on billingual television and radio advertising this week, a spending pace that’s been in place since mid-September, according to a source familiar with media buying in the district. Though Mucarsel-Powell hasn’t been able raise more money than Curbelo, one of the GOP’s best fundraisers, she’s outspending him.

The aggressive pace is shifting momentum in one of the nation’s most-watched congressional races, in which Curbelo has seen his chances of reelection improve in the eyes of most prognosticators in recent weeks despite a national environment that favors Democrats. Mucarsel-Powell has peppered the airwaves with a biographical ad and an ad that touts Democrats’ efforts on healthcare in a district where more than 90,000 people are enrolled in the program.

The Mucarsel-Powell campaign “went up [on TV] before the primary and they have not come down since then, and the campaign has no plan to decrease this communication,” the source familiar with media buying said. “This wasn’t an early ‘I’m going to throw all my dollars on the table and have nothing left’ strategy.”

A new poll commissioned by Mucarsel-Powell’s campaign shows the race in a statistical tie, a big change from a Democratic poll in July that showed Curbelo with a seven percentage point lead over Mucarsel-Powell.

The poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, shows Mucarsel-Powell with a one percentage point lead over Curbelo. Mucarsel-Powell’s 49-48 lead came after her campaign began spending money on TV advertising in August.

“I’ve been working on behalf of my community for over 20 years, and families here can trust I’ll be a genuine voice for them in Washington on the most important issues, like healthcare, jobs and the environment,” Mucarsel-Powell said in a statement.

The internal poll, which used live phone calls to landlines and cell phones in English and Spanish to reach 511 likely voters from Sept. 23-27, was conducted concurrently with Mucarsel-Powell’s ramped up spending. The poll’s margin of error is 4.9 percentage points, meaning that the race is essentially a tie.

Read more here.