Even though they were nowhere near the top of the polls, far-left billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg have already spent over $200 million in the hopes of buying the Democrat Party presidential nomination.
Bloomberg has spent $120 million in only three weeks in the race, as he attempts to make up for lost time since entering the fold. Steyer and Bloomberg have spent more than double what every non-billionaire in the race has spent throughout the current cycle.
“We’ve never seen spending like this in a presidential race,” said Jim McLaughlin, a GOP political consultant who worked on Bloomberg’s mayoral campaigns in New York City. “He has a limitless budget.”
Steyer’s strategy is to focus primarily on the early voting states. He has spent $37 million in the states of Nevada, Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire with much of the money going into digital ads. He has more than doubled the combined spending for ads by front runners including Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden since entering the race in July. Meanwhile, Bloomberg is all but ignoring these early states and focusing on the long haul.
Bloomberg is putting the majority of his spending in Super Tuesday states that could put him in the lead despite his late start. He has spent over $13 million in California, a delegate-rich state that could propel him into the nomination. He has also spent $13 million in both Texas and Florida, two other states that offer a bevy of delegates.
“We’re running out of ways to describe [the ad expenditures] at this point,” said Nick Stapleton, who works as vice president of analytics for Advertising Analytics. “It’s pretty difficult to make a comparison. … You’re looking at one-third of Obama’s 2012 total [ad] spend through the general [election] in one month.”
Doug Wilson, a political strategist based out of North Carolina, said he sees Bloomberg’s advertisements “at least three times a day.” He says the former New York City Mayor is off to a good start, but will have to improve his numbers substantially with black Democrats to win the state.
“You still have to get a sizable portion of the African American vote to be able to be competitive but with him running ads as he has it has increased his numbers nationally,” Wilson said, referencing Bloomberg’s recent improvement in the polls.
Steyer has a 60 person team active in South Carolina where he hopes to court black votes as well. According to a recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, he has edged up to five percent of support from Democrat voters in the state, one point ahead of Buttigieg. Despite their seemingly endless cash supply, not everyone is convinced that it will be enough for them to have a chance at winning the primary.
“After you see the same TV ad 10 times, it’s not going to have as big an impact,” said Christian Heiens, a political marketer with Saber Communications, who compared the spending of Steyer and Bloomberg with failed 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush. “And that’s not just in politics, that’s in anything in marketing.”
“I don’t sell anybody short, but rich white billionaires don’t have any real appeal to black voters in the South,” said Brad Coker, a pollster for Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy. “Billionaires have never really done well with Southern voters.”
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