President Donald Trump and Joe Biden are fighting hard for Florida, and they’re putting their money where their mouths are to win it.
With 29 electoral votes, the Sunshine State has the most to offer of any swing state and could make or break the election for either candidate. Trump has visited at least 16 times this campaign season and changed his actual address to make it his home state. Biden, meanwhile, has made four trips to the state since he began his campaign.
But both candidates have been spending more and more on a record-breaking advertising race in the state. Political ads in the state well-surpassed 2016 spends: Together, Biden and Trump spent at least $264 million on ad buys in the state across television, radio, and digital platforms. The Biden campaign has spent or reserved at least $77 million in airtime, and the Trump campaign spent about $69 million, according to Advertising Analytics.
Michael Bloomberg, a Biden backer, pledged to spend an additional $100 million in the state to bombard airwaves with Democratic messaging. The Bloomberg camp said the goal was to make the President, who has significantly less cash on hand than Biden, continue to fight for Florida in order to take focus away from what the Biden campaign is calling the “blue wall” states in the Midwest.
The Trump campaign, meanwhile, dropped critical campaign funds on recruiting door-to-door canvassers in Florida. While predictions show that Biden has a way forward without winning Florida, it will be nearly impossible for Trump to win the race without the key state’s backing.
“There is no battleground state that poses quite the impediment to Donald Trump’s reelection as Florida does,” said Bloomberg senior political adviser Kevin Sheekey. “We’re here to provide that impediment, and with any luck and with a little bit of turnout, we hope to win a narrow election.”
The plan appeared to work: In the last week of campaigning, the Trump campaign was forced to slash its advertising budget in the state and ask the Republican National Committee to pick up some of the slack so that it could attempt to reposition the money into Northern states. The campaign cut $5.5 million in Florida ads during its final two weeks, while the RNC added $4 million. Biden, meanwhile, booked $16.7 million in ads in Florida for the last two weeks of his campaign.
Some analysts worried that bombarding Floridians with hundreds of millions of dollars of ads would eventually have a diminishing return. “It all becomes white noise. It all starts to blur for the voters, and they begin proactively tuning it out,” Fernand Amandi, a Miami-based Democratic strategist who produced ads for President Barack Obama in 2012, told Politico in October.
And he could be correct. While Florida was not called on Tuesday night, Trump did appear to have a three-point lead with 94% of precincts reporting.
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