There is still no sign of the political ad market slowing down as spending continues to pace well ahead of what was allocated to ad buys at this point during the prior presidential election cycle. The political ad tracking service AdImpact says $564 million was spent through Aug. 4. That is well ahead of the $293 million that was spent at this point four years ago.
The presidential contest always gets the most attention, but the good news for radio is that the U.S. House races – where radio often gets a larger share of the budget – are also beginning to pick up. “There has been a steady increase in ad spending for House races,” says AdImpact, whose latest update shows next year’s House races have already seen a combined $14.9 million spent on advertisements, with millions more to come in the next year.
Based on advertising reservations placed through Aug. 3, AdImpact says the most expensive races are all in toss-up districts. It is led by California’s congressional district No. 13 where Rep. John Duarte (R-CA) is currently serving his first term in office. The biggest ad buy is a $1.06 million campaign opposing Duarte.
The other big congressional races so far, in terms of early ad spending, are New York’s 19th congressional district, Arizona’s sixth district, Virginia’s second district, and Colorado’s third district. AdImpact says its analysis shows most spending in each district is coming from Democrats’ issue groups. All the races except for Virginia are looming battles between the GOP incumbent and the Democrat from the 2022 midterms, it says. “Democrats have already kicked off ad spending for their rematches while Republicans have yet to begin putting serious money in their races,” it says.
While the presidential contenders are spending their August at state and county fairs shaking hands and hoping to build up word of mouth support, there is also paid advertising for several. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) has so far outspent his Republican primary opponents, investing $41.4 million in advertising. That is more than twice what former President Donald Trump has spent, although his $20.4 million investment lands him in second place. AdImpact says Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has spent $17.1 million, good for a third-place finish, followed by North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, who has spent $4.7 million.
With months to go before Iowa’s Jan. 15, 2024 caucus, the state has been the biggest recipient of the political ad dollars spent to date. AdImpact calculates $31.5 million has been spent in the state with nearly two-thirds of the money going on ads supporting Scott’s campaign. New Hampshire is the second biggest recipient with $20.5 million going to that state, with Scott accounting for more than half of the dollars allocated.
The analysis shows network cable television has been the biggest winner in the media ad race to date as candidates look to raise their name recognition on networks such as Fox News.