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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

1 hour ago - Sports

The new faces of NBC's Olympics coverage

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Cy Cyr/PGA Tour via Getty Images

A new(ish) face will be leading NBCUniversal's prime-time coverage of the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games: veteran sportscaster Mike Tirico.

Why it matters: It's Tirico's first run as prime-time host for the Summer Olympics. Legendary broadcaster Bob Costas hosted 12 Olympic Games between 1988 and 2016 for NBC before handing over the prime-time spot to Tirico in 2018.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Sports

Behind the scenes at the COVID Olympics

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios, Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images

TOKYO — The COVID rule-breaking was obvious at Friday's opening ceremony, when athletes were clearly visible on TV with masks below their noses, but an athlete tells Axios that the rule-breaking has been going on well before that.

  • It's been happening at least since athletes arrived in the Olympic Village, where masks were dropped below noses and different teams were forced to share buses.
1 hour ago - Sports

Axios AM Deep Dive: The Covid Olympics

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Welcome to our Axios AM Deep Dive behind the scenes of the Tokyo Olympics detailing the impact of the COVID pandemic, led by Ina Fried, who's on the ground in Tokyo, plus Kendall Baker, who's covering the Games every day in his Axios Sports newsletter.

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