We’ve all been hearing that Democrats have ad money to burn (so much that they’re running out of places to spend it) while Trump and his ilk are broke. But it gets much more obvious when you see it on a map, like the one the Wesleyan Media Project has put out (above):
A new analysis from the Wesleyan Media Project, in conjunction with the Center for Responsive Politics, finds that federal election contests on television have seen roughly 4.5 million ad airings totaling about $2.5 billion dollars cycle-to-date. Nearly 2 million of the airings have occurred in the presidential race alone (an increase of 147% over 2016) at an estimated cost of $1.3 billion. On digital, presidential candidates, their leadership PACs and single-candidate SuperPACs have spent an additional $615 million on Facebook and Google since January 2019.
Looking at the past few weeks, ads supporting Joe Biden continue to rule the airwaves. From September 28 through October 11, Biden’s campaign has spent $56 million on 80,000 television ad airings, while Donald Trump’s campaign has spent $32 million on 32,000 ad airings (Table 1). FF PAC, has spent $18 million in the past two weeks on 16,000 anti-Trump airings, while Independence USA PAC, a group connected with Michael Bloomberg, has spent $8.7 million on 8,700 ad airings.
The most active pro-Trump groups on television include America First Action, with $10.5 million of spending on 8,800 airings, and Preserve America PAC, with $15.7 million in spending on 7,400 ad airings. All told, there has been $102 million in pro-Biden ad spending over the past two weeks compared to $61 million in pro-Trump ad spending. Since April 9, there has been $317 million in pro-Biden ad spending compared to $252 million in pro-Trump ad spending.
(You can see the tables at the link.)
This is TV advertising, which is easy to tailor to specific states. Trump is outspending Biden only in Georgia, a state that he not only must win but had expected to win. But look at the swing states that Trump also needs to win and which have never been firmly in his column: Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Nevada.
All of Pennsylvania is at least medium blue (501-2000 advantage Biden). The Pittsburgh and Philadelphia regions (heavily Biden) are at >2000 Biden. Huge swatches of northern and central Florida (Tampa and Jacksonville) as well as Miami-Dade are dark blue, while Orlando is medium blue. (Given the number of Puerto Ricans who moved to the Orlando area, Biden should be advertising in the dark blue range there.) In Michigan, Biden is dark blue not just in Detroit but in western Michigan and the thumb area, which are more conservative.
In North Carolina, Trump is outspending Biden only in the coastal plain, which is conservative but also less populated. In the Research Triangle and Charlotte (and I think also Asheville), where the people are, Biden is ahead in the medium blue range.
In the intermountain West, Biden is spending a lot in Mormon country (except Utah). Many Mormons are conservative but are known to despise Trump.
There’s not all that much heavy spending in Texas, but the map is a week old, and Democrats are starting to see Texas as within their reach: Democrats believe Trump has put Texas in play. A Biden win could be a game changer.
Recently the Biden campaign announced a $6 million television ad buy — not huge in a state with 17 major media markets — and dispatched his wife, Jill, to get-out-the-vote rallies in Dallas, El Paso and Houston.
That’s hardly a full-on assault. Still, the fact Biden hasn’t written Texas off entirely reflects his advantage heading into the final stretch of the campaign. With a steady lead in states he must win, the former vice president can reach for others less vital to his chances, including Georgia, Iowa and Ohio. [LA Times Oct 18, 2020]
As I read what is admittedly a small-scale map, I think Biden is mostly doing the right things, though I’d still like to see larger outreach to Latinx.