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It’s Nearly Memorial Day, But Political Ad Focus Already Looking Past Labor Day.

Predicting the future is hard, but what the airwaves may sound like later this year in terms of political ad spending is as close as it gets for broadcasters. AdImpact, which looks at where candidates have already reserved ad time, says 14 hopefuls have placed reservations after Labor Day of at least $1 million. And as of Tuesday (May 21), it says $208 million future Presidential ad reservations have been booked.

AdImpact says Democratic advertisers currently hold a $137.5 million advantage in future Presidential ad reservations over Republicans. The political ad tracking firm says GOP advertisers currently have $1.7 million in future reservations, with their latest reservation ending on May 28. In comparison, Democratic advertisers have $139.2 million booked through Election Day.

The pro-Biden group Future Forward accounts for nearly all that spending. AdImpact says it has reserved $134.5 million of broadcast and cable ad time in the fall. Where its dollars are going closely aligns with the battleground states. Ads have been tracked in Pennsylvania ($36.3 million), Michigan ($26 million), Arizona ($21.5 million), Georgia ($19.8 million), Wisconsin ($16.7 million), Nevada ($5.6 million) and North Carolina ($5 million). The PAC has also booked $3.7 million in the Omaha, NE market as Biden looks to win Nebraska’s second congressional district for an electoral college advantage. AdImpact says if Future Forward’s current reservations hold, the group will exceed the $118.2 million it spent in 2020 supporting the incumbent.

Former President Donald Trump’s poll numbers show he has been hurt little by his limited ad spending during the past several months. Since Super Tuesday in March, Republicans, meanwhile, have aired $21 million worth of ads according to AdImpact. Democrats, in comparison, have spent $46 million.

The pro-Trump group MAGA Inc. has placed $12.4 million in ad spending and reservations since Super Tuesday. Despite strong poll numbers, MAGA Inc. has focused its spending on Pennsylvania ($9.9 million), Georgia ($1.3 million) and Michigan ($248,000). But AdImpact also points out that Trump’s campaign has not been on television with ads since late February. It says the Biden campaign has been on the air for 14 of the 21 weeks of 2024 so far. Both parties’ advertisers’ messaging has focused heavily on their party’s core issues. Biden ads mention abortion and healthcare, while Trump ads are focused on crime and immigration.

The 2020 Presidential race saw a record $3.1 billion in political advertising. That record may be at risk. AdImpact says the 2024 contest has already seen $599.2 million in total spending and future reservations through November.

Beyond the Presidential race, AdImpact says 14 candidates have placed reservations after Labor Day of at least $1 million. Only two are Republicans, however. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) has locked in the most ad time, reserving $14.7 million in the Arizona Senate race. Democratic Senate candidates are doing the most forward planning. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has reserved $13.1 million in ad time for the period after Labor Day, and Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) has serviced $10.8 million, while Sen. John Tester (D-MT) has locked in $7.6 million of ad time.

AdImpact says it has tracked $114.7 million in political ad spending through May 10. That brings the 2024 cycle total up to $2.39 billion. That compares to $2.2. billion spent at this point during the 2020 cycle. AdImpact projects a record $10.2 billion will be spent during the 2023-2024 election cycle across all media, including radio.

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