Political Ad Spending Surges As Election Draws Near

The 2020 presidential election is less than a month awayand that means political campaigns are spending a record-breaking amount of cash to lure voters in the final stretch. 

Election spending is expected to total nearly $11 billion during the 2020 cycle for both presidential and congressional races, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That is a whopping 52% more than the previous record-shattering 2012 election cycle when you factor in inflation.

What’s fueling the unprecedented spend? With COVID keeping in-person events to a minimum, the candidates are more reliant than ever on ads to convey their messages. Thus, presidential ad volume is up 145% over 2016 so far this cycle, according to the Wesleyan Media Project.

As for who’s doing the spending, Joe Biden has a clear edge, having shelled out $472 million this year, compared with just $326 million for Donald Trump.

Both campaigns are putting the most money behind broadcast TV ads, which have ramped up significantly since Labor Day. Again, Biden has the edge there having spent roughly $95 million, which was more than double what Trump spent over the same period. As of Oct. 1, Biden and Trump poured a total of $277 million and $234 million, respectively, into broadcast.

For most of the election cycle, Trump actually focused more dollars on digital ads than Biden did, but things have shifted over the past few weeks. Since Labor Day, Biden has plowed $33 million into Facebook and Google ads, while Trump has spent about $23 million.

The election ad spending isn’t over yet. Earlier this week, President Trump reportedly pulled $2.5 million worth of TV ads in Ohio and $820,000 worth of ads in Iowa to shift money toward states that show he is trailing Biden in the polls. Meanwhile, Biden is following through with his planned ads in both states.

In these last few weeks leading up to Nov. 3, look for the candidates to put their money to work selectively in key battleground states, because that is where this election will be determined.