Spending on the 2020 presidential primary has surged past the $1 billion mark, with more than half of that driven by billionaire Mike Bloomberg’s massive advertising campaign, according to data from Advertising Analytics.
Bloomberg, one of the wealthiest men alive, has poured more than $501 million into television, radio and digital ads since he launched his presidential campaign in November. He’s saturating the airwaves with ads depicting himself as the best candidate to take on incumbent President Trump in November and promoting himself as the moderate alternative to frontrunner Bernie Sanders.
It’s the most money that has ever been spent this early on an election in U.S. history.
Because he entered the race too late to compete in early-voting states, meaning his campaign is untested nationally, it’s still unclear how effective Bloomberg’s strategy to focus on the 14 states that cast their ballots on "Super Tuesday" on March 3 will be. According to an average of polls by RealClearPolitics, the three-time New York City mayor is in third place nationally, trailing Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer spent the second-highest amount. He has spent a little more than $186 million on the election. All other candidates have spent less than $50 million apiece. But Steyer trailed well behind the other candidates in the first three states of Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, despite his spending.
So far, Democrats have spent a whopping $969 million on ads, compared to $67.9 million by Republicans, which is an unsurprising ratio because there are eight candidates seeking the Democratic Party's nomination.
Among the non-billionaires in the race, Sanders, who’s leading in the polls after back-to-back victories in New Hampshire and Nevada, and a neck-and-neck finish with Pete Buttigieg in Iowa, had spent the most. The loyalty that Sanders commands has transformed his anti-establishment campaign into a fundraising powerhouse; according to Advertising Analytics, he’s spent close to $50 million on the election.