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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.

Expand chart
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.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Coast Guard searches for 39 people after boat capsizes off Florida coast

A U.S. Coast Guard ship leaving its base in Miami Beach, Florida, in July. Photo: AP/Marta Lavandier

U.S. Coast Guard crews were searching into the night for 39 people whose boat sank off Florida's coast over the weekend after traveling from the Bahamas.

The big picture: A "good Samaritan" contacted the Coast Guard about 8 a.m. Tuesday to say they "rescued a man clinging to a capsized vessel" 45 miles east of Fort Pierce, per a tweet from the agency, which noted it was dealing with "a suspected human smuggling venture."

Scoop: Race to lead NRCC kicks off

Reps. Darin LaHood (left) and Richard Hudson. Photos: Al Drago/Getty Images (LaHood) and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Reps. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) are both telling colleagues they plan to run for chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee for the 2024 cycle, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans are confident they'll win the House majority back this fall, and the early jockeying to lead the caucus' fundraising apparatus is just another indicator of their optimism.

Scoop: White House plans expedited resettlement for Afghan refugees

Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders enter a processing center at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, last August. Photo: Sgt. Jimmie Baker/U.S. Army via Getty Images

President Biden's advisers are crafting a plan to accelerate bringing potentially thousands of Afghans to the U.S. from Qatar, according to a source with direct knowledge of the administration's internal deliberations on the subject.

Why it matters: As U.S. military leaders plan for a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, the administration is still struggling to handle the aftereffects of its chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal. One challenge: how to care for tens of thousands of displaced Afghans — many of whom helped the U.S. fight its longest war.

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