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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.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”