It should come as no surprise that a presidential campaign would spend more on advertising in places with more convincing voters, especially Pennsylvania and Florida.
“Florida and Pennsylvania are two of the biggest prizes for both candidates and they probably have to win for both Trump and Biden,” said Nathan Gonzales, publisher of the non-partisan Inside Elections and CNN contributor. . “It is difficult to replace 29 or 20 electoral votes with another state.”
One thing these 10 states have on the battlefield: Trump won all but one in 2016.
This year’s racing conditions are hard to recognize compared to 2016, when Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton spent about $ 52,000 on advertising in Georgia. This year, Trump has spent about $ 9.4 million so far, while Biden has spent about $ 926,000.
In 2016, neither Trump nor Clinton were bothered to pay for ads in Minnesota. So far this year, Trump has spent $ 2.5 million and Biden has spent $ 795,000.
And after the loss of Clinton from the “Rust Belt” states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, Biden’s advertising wallet for these three states opens much wider this time. So far, Biden has spent $ 44 million in Pennsylvania, $ 27 million in Michigan and $ 26.1 million in Wisconsin.
Another difference from 2016 is that Democrats spend significantly less on advertising in Ohio.
“Ohio turned so much to Trump in 2016 that Democrats are failing to get them back this year,” Gonzalez said. “But that does not mean they will not try.”
Looking at the rest of the country, Trump has surpassed his opponent in national ads, red states and even blue states. Aside from the battlefields, in the states that voted for Trump in 2016, Biden and his PAC associates were significantly less aggressive, spending $ 5.1 million compared to Trump’s $ 18.7 million.
But that is not necessarily because the Biden campaign believes they can not compete in Trumpland. Most of these costs were for digital advertising, which is less expensive than television and radio advertising.
Trump and Biden have spent more than $ 228 million on digital ads on Facebook and Google since Aug. 31 – just about $ 1 million behind their local TV spending and more than four times what they spent on local cable ads.
While TV and radio spending is primarily used to persuade voters, digital ads are often used to attract donors and create voter lists (consider these Facebook ads asking you to “add your name”).
“When it comes to online advertising for a national campaign, the targeting is less revealing than the ads themselves,” said Eric Wilson, a political technologist who led the digital team for Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign.
In a non-competitive environment, online advertising typically focuses on email listings and monetization, Wilson said. For example, solid blue California has rich donors on both sides and is ranked among the top 10 states with the most advertising spending overall. In more competitive states, there is a greater emphasis on identifying and exiting voters and volunteers.
Although it is a different type of campaign, it is worth noting that Trump and the affiliated PACs that have spent $ 152.9 million on digital advertising are more than double what Biden buys digital advertising.
“I was amazed at how little Biden’s campaign invests in online advertising,” Wilson said. And as chairman of the meeting, Wilson added, Trump also dominates television news coverage, which means he does not have to pay for the increased exposure of television commercials like Biden.
The advantage of Trump’s online advertising may also be related to his target audience.
“Trump supporters are on Facebook, the demographics of the people on Facebook are appropriate for their target audience, and Facebook’s financial levels lend themselves to the strategic use of the platform,” said Kathleen Searles, associate professor of political communications at the University. of Louisiana. “I also believe that Facebook ads generally take less control and are not subject to the same set of rules and regulations as TV ads, so that may be part of their strategy.”
Most of the advertising spending in the 10 battle states went to television and radio. In Pennsylvania and Florida, the gap between Biden and Trump’s broadcasting and digital advertising spending is dramatic. In Pennsylvania, Trump spent $ 29.6 million on television / radio and $ 3.6 million on digital. Biden spent $ 39.1 million on television / radio and $ 4.9 million on digital
And in Florida, Trump spent $ 26.5 million on television / radio and $ 7 million on digital. Biden spent $ 34.6 million on television / radio and $ 7.4 million on digital.
It would make sense to spend more convincing TV commercials in the states with the most convincing voters. That TV commercials and radio commercials are more expensive may be the point of breaking the bank in states like Pennsylvania and Florida.
“Campaigns tend to follow a gun approach to advertising,” Searles said. Psychologically, some campaigns believe that a large number in the power that the state must gain.
This does not always work in practice. Clinton spent $ 64 million on advertising in Florida in 2016 – more than double that of Trump – and Sunshine State is still in the red.