Digital advertising is one of the key elements of the campaigns of Democrats running for their party’s 2020 presidential nomination. Data show that some candidates are shouting, while others are barely whispering.
According to Acronym, a progressive non-profit that tracks political digital spending, the candidates are paying Facebook and Google millions for digital ads, but spending in Oregon is barely a blip, .
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is the biggest spender so far. She has spent $1,688,706 on digital ads (Facebook: $1,218,206; Google: $470,500) since launching her campaign.
The second biggest spender on Facebook and Google digital ads is Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). She has spent $1,640,339 (Facebook: $1.2 million; Google: $438,000).
Altogether, the Democratic candidates have spent $12,805,165 on Facebook and Google digital ads since launching their individual campaigns.
What states have been targeted with all that money?
If you look at the top five states targeted by each of the candidates with Facebook ads, California takes the lead. It’s one of the top five targets of 15 candidates. Then there’s Iowa, which has its caucuses on Feb. 3, 2020. It’s in the top five lists of nine candidates. Next is Texas, one of the top five states of eight candidates.
Even though New Hampshire has its primary early on Feb. 11, 2020, it’s only in the top five spending list for Facebook ads of three Democratic candidates: Pete Buttigieg, John DeLaney; and Tulsi Gabbard.
Then there’s Oregon. Oregon’s not in the top five list of any of the Democratic candidates and it’s only in the top ten list of two, Bernie Sanders and Julian Castro. But even Sanders has applied only 3.3% ($41,502) of his Facebook spending to Oregon and Castro only 2% ($8,379).
The lack of digital attention to Oregon may well be because the state’s primary isn’t until May 19, 2020, real late in the game, and it has only 52 delegates. If a candidate is trying to harvest a lot of delegates, focusing on the states with earlier primaries, including Super Tuesday, March 3, when 1433 delegates will be at stake, makes more sense.
Sorry, Oregon. You just don’t matter.
Addendum, May 5, 2019
The Democratic National Committee announced in late April that 2020 presidential candidates will each need to hit 130,000 donors to qualify for the third and fourth televised debates in the fall. Vice According to the Columbia Journalism Review, Vice News’s David Uberti reported that the high threshold may force longshot contenders to spend more on Facebook ads than they get back in donations—limiting their resources for more traditional forms of campaigning. In all, political ad spending is expected to near the $10-billion mark in 2020, up from $6.3 billion in 2016. The Wall Street Journal’s Alexandra Bruell has the figures.