Weekly Wonder: The billion stars of the presidential race

BU News Service
By Devyani Chhetri

In the midst of an advertising blitz in swing states and record fundraising, presidential race candidates President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have raised $2.24 billion halfway through October, according to data from the Center of Responsive Politics.  

Based on data from the Federal Election Commission, the Center of Responsive Politics estimates that this election will be twice as expensive as the last election cycle in 2016. As of Oct. 14, Trump raised $863 million. Meanwhile, Biden raised 37% more funds than his competitor. At $1.3 billion, this is the most any democratic presidential candidate has ever raised. 

Trump raised 69% of his war chest from his candidate campaign committee “Donald J Trump for President” and 15% were raised by conservative super PAC “America First Action.”

As for Biden, 68% came from his campaign committee “Biden for President,” and 9% came from the Carey committee “Priorities USA Action.” Carey committees are a hybrid of PACs and super PACs, which can provide funds to a candidate’s committee like a PAC and also spend independently like a super PAC.

Both candidates have spent over 60% of their funds on media-related activities. These include concerted spending on advertisements. 

The ad spend has also been targeted at swing states such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Arizona. The latest data from the Center of Responsive Politics show that both presidential candidates have spent nearly $871 million on online ads. These numbers are likely to rise in the final days leading up to the elections. 

When it comes to television ads, the presidential race saw $1.3 billion worth of ad expenses. Data from the Wesleyan Media Project show that most ads were aired in Phoenix, Arizona followed by Atlanta, Georgia and then Charlotte, North Carolina since Sept. 8.

So who’s winning on the ad front? Data show that Biden dominates in television ad spending, while Trump takes the lead on the digital front. But both differ in the kind of advertisements they favor. While Trump’s rhetoric of “law and order” and tough on crime has dominated the digital domain, Biden’s approach has been to emphasize his policy platform, zeroing in on his plans for addressing COVID-19 and healthcare as well as the disruptions in the economy. 

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