Broadcast executives are so far cautious about how much political ad revenue to expect this year. But in a positive sign for where things may be heading, the ad-tracking firm AdImpact says the 2024 federal election cycle is currently outpacing the 2020 cycle by $200 million. It says $382.65 million has already been spent through May 26. That compares to $182.99 million that was already spent during the 2020 election cycle.
“Spending has been more consistent in the current cycle than in 2020 across the board, as there has been a wide variety of competitive elections already in 2023,” says AdImpact in its latest update. Helping to grow the numbers are the more crowded field of candidates. After Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) announced his presidential bid this month, he placed $5 million worth of ad buys. Most targeted the early state voters in Iowa and New Hampshire with a focus in the Boston and Des Moines markets.
Overall, AdImpact says the 2024 presidential contest is already tracking ahead of what was spent four years ago by nearly a third. It says $37.1 million was spent on the race so far versus $24 million at this point during the 2020 presidential election cycle.
In the current race, former President Donald Trump and his affiliated political action committee, MAGA Inc., have spent a combined $15.7 million. Another Trump-backing Republican issue group has also been a big spender. AdImpact says Never Back Down and MAGA Inc. each has spent at least $10.8 million. It means that Trump and groups aligned with the former President make up 71% of all presidential spending so far. AdImpact says just two other Republican advertisers have spent over one million dollars – Perry Johnson and Vivek Ramaswamy.
Meanwhile, President Biden has placed ad buys totaling $3.7 million.
Even as the presidential race gets all the headlines, 2023 has seen five elections so far where ad spending has surpassed the $10 million mark. That compares to just one that occurred in 2019. Leading the list was the Wisconsin Supreme Court Race this month. It saw over $40 million spent. The Philadelphia mayor’s race primary ranks second while AdImpact says $36 million was spent on the Chicago mayoral contest. Also topping $10 million in ad spending were the Kentucky gubernatorial primary and the Jacksonville, FL primary.
AdImpact also reports that issue spending has increased in 2023, albeit at a slower pace than candidate spending. It says $145 million has been spent on issue ads so far this cycle, which is a 97% increase from four years ago. That compares to a 172% jump in the amount spent on standard election ads. The analysis says it went from $88 million to $239 million. Healthcare issue spending is said to be among the biggest growth areas, rising $11.9 million between 2019 and 2023.