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How Trump's falling behind in 4 battleground states

A major outside Democratic group is outspending President Trump on Facebook ads in the crucial battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Why it matters: 2020 presidential candidates have spent at least $61 million so far this cycle on Facebook and Google ads, with Trump in the lead, according to the Wesleyan Media Project. But that's national spending. The state-by-state spend (below) is important because that's where the 2020 election will be won.

Data: Bully Pulpit Interactive; Table: Axios Visuals

The big picture: Trump is still using online advertising more aggressively than Democrats.

  • "The Trump campaign’s intense testing of ads is one example," writes the NYT. "It posts dozens of variations of almost every ad to figure which plays best. Do voters respond better to a blue button or a green one? ... Will they more readily cough up cash for an impeachment defense fund or an impeachment defense task force?"
  • As Axios' Ina Fried and Sara Fischer write: "Online ad spending offers President Trump an efficient way to target sympathetic voters with fundraising pitches and barrage them with inflammatory messages on issues ranging from immigration to impeachment."

Meanwhile, Priorities USA — a major Democratic super PAC — launched a digital ad campaign in late July "focused on holding President Trump accountable" and highlighting how his economic policies have negatively affected some Americans.

  • The group spent $40 million online in 2016 and they said they plan to spend more than that in 2020.

Yes, but: The GOP has more than $150 million cash on hand for their 2020 efforts, so Democrats aren't yet winning the money race.

The bottom line: Whoever wins the next election will need a battleground strategy online that reflects a comprehensive field operation on the ground in these states.