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No Slowdown In Political Ads, With Biden Now Third-Biggest Spender.

In what may be a sign of the year to come, the gap between the amount of political ad spending this year and the 2020 cycle was expected to close this fall. But so far that has not happened, as the 2024 election cycle is closing in on a billion dollars of spending with two and a half months left in 2023.

AdImpact reports $940 million has already been spent by candidates and political groups. That is well ahead of the $556 million that was spent at this point during the 2020 election cycle. Driving some of the early spending is the political calendar, with the Iowa Republican Caucus scheduled for Jan. 15, 2024.

The presidential campaign is driving the headlines, and it is responsible for plenty of the spending so far. AdImpact says during the past two weeks, $11.8 million of presidential ads have been placed across the country.

Three months before Iowa voters get the first say on the GOP nominee, a group supporting former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley spent the most in recent weeks. Stand for America spent $4 million in Iowa and New Hampshire, which AdImpact credits with helping to push Haley up to fourth place among Republican candidates.

MAGA Inc., the group backing former President Donald Trump, was the second-largest spender. It reportedly invested $2.9 million on Trump, mainly going after Iowa voters. That is a shift for MAGA Inc., which AdImpact says has primarily placed ads on national cable television in recent months. It says the Trump allies may be looking to shore up support in Iowa where they rank fifth in spending, despite being the third-highest presidential advertiser nationally.

Radio stations may also start to see some spending from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. AdImpact picked up that his campaign made its first traditional media buy late last week, investing $1.3 million in Iowa on television ads running through January 2024. Focused mainly on digital media, DeSantis ranks second among candidates with the analysis showing he has had $40.5 million in ad support to date, with the DeSantis-supporting Never Back Down group making up 92% of the allocation.

Most of the spending remains on the Republican side of the ledger, but President Biden’s campaign has also continued to put more cash into getting its message out early. AdImpact says the Biden team has spent $1.9 million on ad buys during the past two weeks, mostly in general election battleground states including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The most money went to Pennsylvania, where $953,000 was spent.

Despite not facing a primary opponent, AdImpact’s analysis shows that Biden’s campaign has spent $36.9 million to date. That puts him in third among all the presidential contenders, behind Senator Rick Scott (R-SC) and DeSantis.

Not all the pollical spending this year is focused on winning the White House. Over the weekend voters in Louisiana went to the polls to select their state’s next governor. With the retirement of Governor John Bel Edwards, it has opened the field wide, and 15 candidates flooded in. That helped to drive up spending levels.

AdImpact calculates that $29 million was spent by the candidates and political action committees in the Louisiana gubernatorial race through early October. That is slightly below what was spent in 2019. But with Republicans hopeful of taking back the governor’s mansion, GOP spending far outpaced Democrats. AdImpact says Republican candidates and groups have spent $26.3 million compared to just $1.1 million for Democrats. And it points out that an independent candidate spent $2.2 million – or more than all the Democrats combined.

Among the GOP, Attorney General Jeff Landry leads the pack with $9 million of ad spending. AdImpact points out the outside group America’s PAC also spent $82,000 on radio ads to back Landry, who won the Louisiana governor's race on Saturday with 52% of the vote when The Associated Press called the race.

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