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The Presidential Ad Tally Tops $300 Million With Only One State’s Primary Completed.

With the voting done in Iowa and the New Hampshire primary just days away, the 2024 presidential campaign is now in full swing. AdImpact, the political advertising tracking firm, calculates $318.7 million has been spent during the past year in the race for the White House. To put that into perspective, AdImpact says $285.6 million was spent on the presidential primary during 2023 versus $400.6 million spent in 2019 when the competitive primary was among the Democrats.

This cycle, most of the dollars have not come from the candidates themselves. AdImpact says individual campaigns have spent $73.7 million while outside issue groups have far outpaced that, spending a combined $227.8 million.

Unlike four years ago, the competitive primary is among Republicans and that is where a majority of advertising buys have come from. AdImpact reports GOP presidential primary advertising totals $259 million with $200 million coming from issue groups and the remaining $59 million from the candidates.

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has had the most ad weight behind her campaign with total spending of $63.7 million through Jan. 5. That lead came despite the fact that her Stand for America Fund PAC did not begin spending until August.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ranks second at $58.1 million. In recent weeks, AdImpact says pro-DeSantis advertisers have exclusively focused their advertising efforts on Iowa, with the last pro-DeSantis spot airing in New Hampshire in mid-November.

Former President Donald Trump has had $51.7 million worth of ads on the air. He has spent the most on national media ($19.5 million) while in recent months pro-Trump advertisers have increased their spending in New Hampshire, with two-thirds of all pro-Trump spending in December and January targeting the state.

Of the nearly $259 million spent on the Republican Presidential primary, $65.7 million was spent supporting major candidates who are no longer in the race. Significant contributions came from ad spend supporting businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), Governor Doug Burgum (D-ND), and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

The economy, immigration, candidates’ characters, and China have dominated the ad messaging across the Republican Presidential primary according to AdImpact’s analysis. It also notes that nearly a third of the GOP’s ads mentioned President Joe Biden by name.

In 2019, Democrats spent $362.7 million on political ads in the year leading up to the primary voting. This cycle, President Biden may not have any serious challengers, but he has still been advertising. AdImpact says pro-Biden advertisers spent $49.5 million so far.

Iowa has seen more ad spending than any other state to this point, according to AdImpact. It says $119.6 million was spent to target caucus voters there, accounting for 46% of what has been spent so far by the GOP. Haley invested the most in Iowa, with $35.5 million of ads, followed by DeSantis with $33.2 million and Trump with $17.2 million.

Meantime in New Hampshire, ads worth $70.8 million have been run by the Republican candidates and issue groups. Haley holds a lead there too, spending $26.4 million, followed by pro-Trump ads totaling $12.7 million.

AdImpact projects a record $10.2 billion will be spent during the 2023-2024 election cycle across all media, including radio. The forecast, if accurate, would mean political ad spending will grow 13% from the record $9.02 billion that was spent during the last presidential election cycle four years ago.

The White House race will get the most attention in the coming months, as well as the biggest share of ad dollars. AdImpact estimates $2.7 billion will be spent on the Presidential race this cycle. It pegs radio’s take of those Presidential dollars at $84 million plus $116 million from House and Senate contests.

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