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Spending Tops $1 Billion In 2024 Election Cycle.

The presidential field of contenders is shrinking on the Republican side while expanding among Democrats. Also growing is the amount of advertising dollars being spent or reserved. The ad tracking firm AdImpact reports spending in the 2024 cycle has now topped the $1 billion mark as the pace of spending continues to outpace the 2020 cycle. It says $1.06 billion was spent through Oct. 27. That compares to $640 million that was already spent at this point four years ago.

The billion-dollar threshold is crossed as the presidential field is experiencing some shaking out. In recent days, several Republicans have suspended their campaigns, including former Vice President Mike Pence and talk show host Larry Elder. Earlier, three other GOP contenders, including Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, former Texas congressman Will Hurd and businessman Perry Johnson, also dropped out of the race.

There are also some troubling signs for anyone that is a fan of Senator Tim Scott (R-SC). He had been leading the ad spending race at one point among Republicans, but his campaign and the political action committee supporting Scott’s run have cancelled a significant portion of their upcoming ad buys. The Trust In the Mission PAC announced to supporters that it was cancelling “all of our fall media inventory,” saying in a memo to donors obtained by Politico that it is not going to “waste our money when the electorate isn’t focused or ready for a Trump alternative.”

With those cancellations, AdImpact says that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis now has the lead with $41.8 million in ad spending and reservations. That is a $10.5 million lead on ad spending by former President Donald Trump. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley comes in fourth with $25.7 million in buys and reservations.

Meantime on the Democratic side, President Biden last weekend got his first challenger for his party’s nomination. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) filed the paperwork to get on the New Hampshire primary ballot.

The incumbent has a head start on spending. AdImpact says spending and reservations in support of Biden have now surpassed $40 million with nearly all of the money spent in battleground states. It reports that Future Forward USA Action is still the leading Democratic advertiser with $19.4 million in spending and reservations, but AdImpact also points out that the group has not placed new ads recently.

“Compared to spending in support of Trump as an incumbent in 2019, Biden is significantly outpacing Trump. Trump didn’t see $40 million in ad support until December 30th, 2019, meaning that his ad support is pacing about two months behind Biden,” says the latest AdImpact update. It also points out that Trump’s campaign focused mainly on national ad buys during its early months, while the Biden reelection effort is focused on specific states.

The evolution of the presidential race last week convinced BIA Advisory Services to lower slightly its outlook for how much ad dollars will be placed this year in local markets. It is now projecting local political spending will total $516 million this year. That is down from its summer forecast of $534 million, but the figure is still up significantly compared to the past two non-federal election years. It estimates total local political ad spending will total $11 billion in the 2023-2024 cycle.

Nicole Ovadia,VP of Forecasting & Analysis at BIA, says the types of advertising she is seeing now are a little bit different than in the past. “There's a lot more fundraising advertising, and those happen in markets that are not necessarily contested,” she said. “There’s going be a ton of Democratic spending in New York and California raising money so they can spend more money in other states that are contested. And the same thing is going happen on the Republican side.”

Ovadia says most of those fundraising ads appear on digital media, especially social media, with ads that are less focused on winning a person’s support. “We already have your vote, now I need your money,” is the message that she says dominates the ads.

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