Even before The New York Times reported Monday that President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign was facing a cash crunch over the last eight weeks of the campaign, the signs that the incumbent was struggling on the money front could be seen all over the TV — and digital –airwaves.
For the week of September 3, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign spent almost $17 million on TV and digital advertising in nine swing states, according to Advertising Analytics, a site that closely tracks ad spending by the two campaigns.
By contrast, Trump’s campaign spent just over $4 million on ads over that same time.
The numbers in some swing states are startling. In Florida, Biden spent more than $5 million on ads for the week, while Trump spent $1.4 million. In Pennsylvania, Biden’s campaign dropped $3.6 million. Trump? $0. In Michigan, Biden spent $2.2 million. Trump? $0.
And it’s not just a single week where Biden is outspending Trump on TV.
Although Trump had a year-long head start — as Biden was fighting for and winning the Democratic nomination — tabulations made by CNN’s Christopher Hickey show that the former VP has outspent the incumbent $183 million to $158 million in advertising in the 10 states CNN considers the top battlegrounds.
In total, Biden has outspent Trump $42 million to $33.5 million in Florida, $44 million to $33.1 million in Pennsylvania and $27 million to $11.2 million in Michigan.
Trump is outspending Biden on ads by a substantial margin in only two states: Georgia (where Trump has spent $9 million to less than $1 million for Biden) and Texas (Trump $6.6 million, Biden $2.8 million).
Both states have long been Republican strongholds at the federal level. The last time a Democratic presidential candidate won Georgia was 1992; it was all the way back in 1976 for Texas.
Now, before drawing too many conclusions about What It All Means, it’s worth remembering that Trump was drastically outspent by Hillary Clinton in 2016 — and he still won.
Which, well, is a data point! But generally speaking, you would MUCH rather be the candidate with major ad spending advantages in key battleground states than the candidate on the short end of that stick.
The Point: Ad spending doesn’t equal victory. If it did, Hillary Clinton would be readying her final sprint for a second term. But 95% of the time (and maybe even higher), the candidate spending more on convincing voters to choose them wins.