The 2022 midterm election season was a record-breaker. The political ad tracking firm AdImpact says $8.9 billion was spent during a political cycle that more closely resembled that of a presidential cycle. In fact, last year’s political ad total was just $119 million under the $9.04 billion that was spent during the 2020 campaign, which still holds the record as the most expensive political race ever.
Reading the political tea leaves, AdImpact says 2022’s election spending suggests the coming 2024 presidential season could be like no other. “All signs point to 2024 easily passing the 2020 and 2022 political cycles to become the most expensive of all time and the first to surpass the $10 billion marker,” it says in a new analysis.
Some things about 2024 will be the same as last year. For one, every House seat will be up for grabs. AdImpact says the narrow Senate majority will also embolden Republicans to spend more to capture control while Democrats will also need to spend millions to hold onto the majority – or add to it.
There is also the simple fact that each cycle seems to bring bigger numbers. During the 2020 campaign, AdImpact says presidential spending accounted for $3.1 billion of the $9.04 billion total. The rest came from House, Senate, Governor, and down-ballot races which added up to $5.9 billion. Those same non-presidential races added up to $3 billion more in ad spending in 2022. “The upcoming 2024 political cycle appears to contain several major factors that drove spending in 2020 and 2022,” it predicts.
Another factor that could increase spending is how early the 2024 presidential campaign has begun. Former President Donald Trump has already launched his bid to return to the White House, and speculation that several fellow Republicans may challenge him during the primary season could help bring more ad spending.
On the Democratic side, President Biden has not said if he plans to seek reelection. But if he opts to stay at one term, AdImpact says that could “open the floodgates” for other Democrats to start spending.
One uncertainty right now is where the primary ad dollars will flow, however. That is because both parties are looking at changing the order of states, a move that would likely mean fewer political ad dollars for stations in Iowa and New Hampshire.