DemDaily: War on the Airwaves

December 6, 2019

The 2020 presidential contenders are ramping up their investment in on-air campaign ads in what is expected to be a record election for political advertising.

According to Kantor Media, which tracks spending, roughly 60% of campaign budgets flow to paid message delivery, and the 2020 candidates are expected to pour $6 billion into ad spending. 

Tom Steyer Ad "Took Action" aired 10,593 times Oct 9-Dec 4 in GA, HI, Iowa, MA, NV, NH, OK, SC, and 2,563 times nationally (Click)

Although digital, or social media, spending is expected to account for 20% or $1.2 million, broadcast TV is set to receive the largest portion of candidates' spending.

Based on data collected by Kantor Media and FiveThirtyEight, here's where the top contenders stand on their media buys.

Billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer, who entered the race July 9, 2019, has waged the most extensive on-air campaign -- to date.


Bloomberg Ad "Did Good" aired 20,327 times November 23-December 4th (Click)

Steyer has invested an estimated $47 million in ads in 15 states and nationally, and has pledged to spend $100 million on his campaign.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who announced his late entry into the race on November 24th, immediately invested over $35 million in television advertising to introduce himself in key Democratic states.

Bloomberg has also pledged to spend $100 million on an ad campaign against Trump in key battleground states, and $15 million on a voter registration effort.

Bernie Sanders Ad "Iowa First" aired 1,593 times October 26-November 19 (Click)

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has run 12 ads, at an estimated cost of $3.6 million, in Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Iowa, where he spent $2.5 million.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has spent over $7 million on social media, has invested $2.8 million on television in Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nebraska and South Carolina, with the largest buys in Iowa and nationally.


Pete Buttigieg Ad "Big Ideas" aired 449 times Nov 28-Dec 4 in Iowa and once nationally (Click)

Six candidates have qualified for the Sixth Democratic Primary Debate on December 19th in Los Angeles, and co-hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico. They include Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren.

Because Bloomberg is not accepting donations, he does not qualify for the Democratic debates.


Andrew Yang Ad "A New Way Forward" aired  1,974 times Nov 7-Dec 5 in Iowa, MA, MN, NE and NH

Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang has spent $1.8 million on ads in Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska and New Hampshire, with $1.2 million of that spent in Iowa.

Although one of the frontrunners, former Vice President Joe Biden has spent only $1 million on six ads -- in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and one nationally.


Joe Biden Ad "Moment" aired 420 times August 27- September 24 primarily in Iowa (Click)


Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has focused her $740,000 in ad spending on Iowa and New Hampshire, with one national buy.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, also a frontrunner, has relied heavily on $7+ million spent on digital platforms but is now out with four ads airing in Iowa, and one nationally, at a cost of a mere total of $530,000.

Klobuchar Ad "All of America" aired 737 times  Oct 3-Dec 3 in NH, Iowa and once nationally (Click)


Spending by other contenders still in the race, but who have not qualified for the next debate, include Colorado Senator Michael Bennet ($830K), former Maryland Congressman John Delaney ($520K), Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (480K), former HUD Secretary Julian Castro ($19K), and author Marianne Williamson, who is running a "three-figure ad."

Warren Ad "Rooting Out Corruption" aired 185times Oct 16-November in Iowa (Click)

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has just launched "a six-figure" radio and digital ad buy, and former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who just entered the race November 14th, has not yet released ads.

Out of the Race: Montana Governor Steve Bullock, California Senator Kamala Harris, Miramar Florida Mayor Wayne Messam and former Congressman Beto O'Rourke and former Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak.

DemList will keep you informed.



Connecting you to The Party
Connecting you to Each Other

Support DemList!

Kimberly Scott

SignUp for the Daily briefings on issues, politics and the players
Follow on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn

Related posts

DemDaily: Hypocrisy and History

DemDaily: Hypocrisy and History

February 14, 2021 At 3:49pm yesterday, the United States Senate, by a vote of 57 to 43, acquitted Donald J. Trump on the Article of Impeachment on Incitement of Insurrection. Seven Republicans...

DemDaily: Democrats Launch Offensive

DemDaily: Democrats Launch Offensive

June 17, 2020 This week, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) kicked off a general election offensive campaign in the field, on air, online and at the ballot box. Taking the Battle to the...