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Political ad spending to top $6 billion for 2020 election

Election spending is likely to increase into the 2020 elections, with ad spending expected to climb to $6 billion, according to a new report from eMarketer. During the 2018 elections, it was estimated more than $5 billion was raised and spent for Democrats to wrest control of the House from Republicans.

Though the $6 billion will be more than double what was spent during the 2014 midterm elections – and an increase of more than $1.5 billion spent during the 2016 presidential campaign – the report shows ad spend growth is on a sharp decline.

The report notes that spending for the 2020 elections will increase by 14% from the last election; during the 2018 midterms, spending growth was up 21%. The report excluded money spent by PACs and local election ad spending, focusing only on ads sponsored by “federal candidates and campaigns.”

Democratic presidential candidates on the second night of the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News in Miami. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

The push for digital

Money spent on political ads is still primarily spent on television, with nearly 75% spent on ads for broadcast and cable television. Though television is still the most popular place for political ad placements, increasingly, ads are turning to digital channels.

According to the report, which compiled estimates from several media companies, 20% of the $6 billion that will be spent this cycle is expected to go to digital, for a total of $1.2 billion. But other estimates are even higher. Some firms predict $1.6 billion will be dedicated to digital mediums, which is double what was spent during the 2018 midterm elections.

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Though this figure isn’t insignificant, it still represents a small portion of all digital ad spend. EMarketer estimates that “U.S. advertisers will spend $42.58 billion on digital video placements overall, amounting to 28.1% of digital ad spending.”

“Most of those placements will be bought programmatically, with 82% of U.S. digital video ad spending forecast to be transacted in automated channels next year,” the report said.

Spending big

Political ad spends, however, won’t be all the money that will be shelled out on the 2020 elections. In the first two quarters of 2019, donors gave roughly $420 million to Democratic candidates. President Trump pulled in $54 million, largely crushing Democratic presidential hopefuls in the fundraising race. The Trump campaign has said it plans to spend $1 billion in a bid to win the 2020 election.

Trump has managed to consolidate small-dollar donors on the right, despite Republican reliance on large donations, particularly from wealthy donors and corporations. But Trump’s success with grassroots fundraising isn’t felt across the whole party, the same way it has with the left. According to ActBlue, the Democratic fundraising platform, nearly 3.5 million small-dollar donors (giving an average of roughly $32 each) raised $246 million in Q2.

Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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