Feb 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Ad spending on 2020 primary tops $1 billion

TV with american flag on a pile of money
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Spending on the 2020 presidential primary has officially surpassed the $1 billion mark, with more than half of that total coming from billionaire Michael Bloomberg, according to data from Advertising Analytics.

Why it matters: It's the most money that has been spent this early on in an election cycle in U.S. history.

For context, experts project that more than $10 billion will be spent on political ads this election season, with more than $3 billion toward the presidential primary specifically.

  • In other words, roughly one-tenth of the total money that will be spent on presidential political ads has already been spent with eight months to go until Election Day.

By the numbers: To no surprise, Democrats have outspent Republicans more than 9-to-1 due to a highly competitive primary contest and because there are two billionaires spending an unprecedented amount on ads.

  • So far, Democrats have spent a whopping $969 million on ads, compared to $67.9 million by Republicans.
  • Bloomberg has spent more than $538 million to date, per Ad Analytics, while Tom Steyer has spent more than $186 million. All other candidates have spent less than $50 million each.

Startling stat: One of the biggest shifts between 2016 and 2020 has been the increase in money invested in Super Tuesday states — mostly as a result of Bloomberg's unorthodox campaign strategy.

  • In total, about $247 million has been spent in Super Tuesday states, up from only $30 million in 2016.

Be smart ... Ad Analytics credits this level of extraordinary spend to three factors:

  1. Better analytics from tech companies, which have now created dashboards and libraries that track political ad spending.
  2. Mike Bloomberg's war chest, which has surpassed more than $500 million in ad spending.
  3. Bernie Sanders' ability to drive grassroots donations, often through online platforms like ActBlue.

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