It’s beginning to look a lot like… a serious Presidential election. After what Advertising Age deemed a “summer coma,” both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have begun renewed campaign spending, according to a new Ad Age Campaign Ad Scorecard analysis. The spend for presidential, congressional and gubernatorial races has now “surged” past the $3 billion mark—with more than half of that spent in the presidential race.
The $3 billion figure includes radio and TV, as well as digital ad spending across Facebook and Google for presidential candidates only, based on the ongoing project led by the Ad Age Datacenter in partnership with Kantar/CMAG.
Trump maintains the lead in booked radio and TV spending from Aug. 17 through Election Day with $179.6 million worth of ads planned: $148.7 million from the campaign itself and $30.9 million from pro-Trump PACs and other advocacy groups. Biden has $81.1 million booked ($15.0 million by the campaign itself, and $66.1 million from pro-Biden PACs and advocacy groups).
Ad Age reports that total spending to date on radio and TV for U.S. Senate races is closing in on $1.0 billion. Republicans have so far spent $463.0 million and Democrats $442.2 million. For U.S. House races, ad spending has reached $419.1 million ($223.4 million from Democrats and $192.3 million from Republicans). And ad spending on gubernatorial races is $161.6 million, with Republicans maintaining a slight edge over Democrats ($80.8 million vs. $80.2 million).
This follows what the publication calls a “strange, sort of awkward in-between phase through July and early August,” following Trump’s demotion of campaign manager Brad Parscale, which led “to a temporary freeze on TV advertising (pre-Labor Day) while strategy got rethought.”
The Biden campaign, meanwhile, “seemed sometimes eerily quiet—not only because Biden has been hobbled by being unable to do traditional campaign events amid the pandemic, but because his campaign simply has not kept up with Trump in terms of booking advertising time,” Ad Age offers.