Prior to his Kenosha visit last month, Republicans enjoyed accusing Joe Biden of largely ignoring Wisconsin in 2020.
They weren’t talking about Biden’s presence on the airwaves.
Biden and the groups supporting him this fall have dominated the media war in Wisconsin since the April primary and are on pace to spend $21.5 million more than the president and his supporters through Election Day, according to a WisPolitics.com review of data from Advertising Analytics through Oct. 2.
What’s more, over the final month of the race, Biden and his backers have already secured $15.3 million on TV, cable, radio and digital, compared to the $9.5 million from the president and his supporters.
That advantage is especially pronounced in the state’s largest media markets.
For example, the Advertising Analytics data shows Biden and his backers spent $10.7 million in the Green Bay market between April 8 and Oct. 2, compared to $6.7 million by Trump and his allies. And Biden’s advantage isn’t letting up. In the Green Bay area, the candidate and Democratic groups are scheduled to outspend the other side better than 3-to-1 over the final month of the race.
A GOP operative said it was problematic for Trump to “get whacked that much” in the Green Bay market.
Four years ago, Trump won the area by 17 points. A compilation of Marquette University Law School Poll results in the surveys conducted between May and early September showed Trump up just 5 points in the market.
“It’s unprecedented for an incumbent president to get outspent, period, let alone at that margin,” the operative said.
The media spending in Wisconsin this year has dwarfed what the state saw four years ago, as Hillary Clinton largely took it for granted and Trump pulled the upset victory. Candidates and outside groups combined to spend nearly $18.5 million in 2016 with almost all of that spending over just five months: March and April around the state’s primary and September through November leading up to the fall election.
Already, the candidates and groups have spent or reserved $113.7 million in broadcast, cable, radio and digital ads in 2020.
That doesn’t even include the spending in 2019 as groups eyes Wisconsin as a potential tipping point in the 2020 campaign. Ahead of the 2016 race, there was a small $3,200 buy in the Milwaukee market in 2015. Last year, candidates and groups spent more than $4.6 million.
Add that in, and the media war in Wisconsin is already on pace for more than $118 million in total spending.
Advertising Analytics’ numbers for the 2016 race don’t include digital spending. Stripping out those buys from the 2020 spending — which cover expenses on the Facebook and Google umbrellas — and this year’s race is still on pace to be a more than fivefold increase over what was spent four years ago.
Joe Zepecki, who was communications director for Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign in Wisconsin, said the perception that Clinton lost Wisconsin in 2016 because she didn’t visit misses the real mistake her campaign made here.
“It was that her campaign did not make the investment in the way that the Obama campaign did in 2008 and 2012,” Zepecki said. “The Biden campaign from day one has said, ‘We are not going to make that mistake.’”
The Capitol Report is written by editorial staff at WisPolitics.com, a nonpartisan, Madison-based news service that specializes in coverage of government and politics, and is distributed for publication by members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.
Copyright © WisPolitics.com