Strapped for cash, Trump yanks TV ads in key states as Biden spending surges
President Trump slashed his re-election ad spending on a balcony at the White House on Monday after his hospitalization for COVID-19 when his rival Joe Biden turned up advertising.
President Trump stopped all television and radio advertising in three states and reduced it significantly in four other states in the past few weeks after failing to see an increase in his Democratic challenger Joe Biden's spending due to his poor fundraising campaign.
Trump's withdrawal from Ohio, Iowa and New Hampshire reflects his struggle to change the dynamics of a race that polls say is on the way to losing. In the six weeks since his party's National Congress, Trump's campaign has grossed more than $ 17 million in ads that he previously booked in those states.
Two of them, Ohio and Iowa, are must-see spots for the Republican president. Polls show he is almost dead even with the former vice president in both cases. Trump's withdrawal from advertising in these states - despite the risk - is a sign of the poor financial health of his campaign.
"It seems the Trump campaign has reached the point where they need to triage," said Travis Ridout, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which follows political ads. "You don't seem to have enough money to run ads everywhere."
In contrast, Biden has ramped up its ad spend across the entire voting card and started pouring money into states that were once inaccessible. Among them are Texas, Georgia, Ohio, and Iowa. For the week that ends Monday, Biden's $ 36 million in total TV and radio spots is twice that of Trump's $ 18 million, according to Advertising Analytics, an advertising tracking company.
The reason for the inequality is clear: Trump has far less money than Biden. As of late August, Biden reported $ 466 million in the bank and Trump reported $ 325 million. This emerges from the documents submitted to the Bundestag Election Commission, which were shared by the election campaigns.
"When you're Trump's campaign manager, you never expected to find yourself so late in the campaign in this situation where the Democrat has a lot more money," said Linda Fowler, government professor emeritus at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire.
"It's because of a combination of things, like Trump's people spending too much money way too early on things like expensive Super Bowl ads. And Biden's fundraiser, which looked so weak at first, has taken off."
Joe Biden, speaking at a car campaign in Las Vegas on Friday, far surpasses President Trump on television and radio advertising. (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
Since the end of August, Trump has also cut $ 11 million in advertising time previously reserved in Nevada, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, according to Advertising Analytics.
Part of what Trump is doing is shifting resources to states he considers essential to get the 270 votes he needs to win a second term in the November 3rd election: Florida, Georgia , North Carolina and Arizona. Trump increased advertising spending, which he had already reserved in these states for the past six weeks, by $ 18 million.
Trump's financial burden is also evident in Pennsylvania, another state he cannot afford to lose. After running about $ 2 million worth of ads that he planned to run there in September, he's been ramping up spending in Pennsylvania in recent weeks.
In search of easy money, the Trump campaign has made an urgent appeal. In the 24 hours that ended Friday morning, a potential donor received 13 emails and five text messages soliciting money from Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and others. Subject lines included "Basement Biden," "Totally and Completely Corrupt," and "Kamala Was a Mess," alluding to Pence's debate Wednesday with California Senator Kamala Harris, Biden's runner-up.
In the last few weeks of the campaign, Trump could shift priorities and spend a lot of money in states where he has retired. But more than 9 million Americans have already cast their ballots and more people are voting every day, so the target audience is steadily shrinking.
Trump spokeswoman Samantha Zager said Democrats and the media applauded Biden "for over-spending on television advertising." She said Trump's campaign had "spoken directly to voters in all of these states for years," in part through online content and digital ads.
"We are confident that our strategy will lead President Trump to victory while Biden has to watch his television commercials from his basement," she said.
In 2016, Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton spent him advertising, but his cheeky antics resulted in tremendous free media coverage. Cable news channels have often broadcast its rallies live. And Clinton, unlike Biden, was viscerally rejected by many voters. Now, however, Trump is an unpopular incumbent defending a tumultuous presidency that has polarized the nation.
The electoral environment couldn't be worse for Trump, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 on October 2. The pandemic has killed more than 214,000 Americans, made more than 11 million people jobless, and disrupted the lives of virtually everyone. The United States accounts for 4% of the world's population but 20% of COVID-19 deaths.
What makes matters worse as his campaign comes to an end is that Trump's failure to demand masks and social distancing at the White House sparked a coronavirus outbreak that has infected dozens in his inner circle and beyond.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's foremost infectious disease expert, said Friday that Trump's celebration at the White House to appoint Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court was a "superspreader event".
Few of the guests wore masks that were worn by Drs at a September 26 gathering in the Rose Garden of the White House. Anthony Fauci called the "superspreader event" of the coronavirus that infected people in President Trump's inner circle and beyond.
Trump's woes are clear in recent polls. According to a summary by FiveThirtyEight from public polls, Biden has expanded its lead to 10 percentage points nationwide.
Even more threatening to Trump is the electoral college's discouraging map: polls show that Biden is ahead in every state Hillary Clinton wore in 2016 and nine of those who voted for Trump.
Voters favor Biden by more than 5 percentage points in the three states that Trump won with tiny profit margins: Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Biden holds closer leads in six other states that Trump led: Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Iowa, Ohio, and Georgia.
Biden spokesperson T.J. Ducklo said the Democrat is expanding the voting card with ads in 16 states that "maximize the pathways to 270 votes".
"While Donald Trump personally spreads the virus by acting irresponsibly and against the advice of medical experts, his campaign is on the decline and only appeals to his grassroots," Ducklo said. Trump delivered a speech from a White House balcony to hundreds of supporters on the South Lawn on Saturday. Few of the crowd were socially distant or wore masks.
Trump's latest advertisements say he will eradicate the coronavirus, create 10 million jobs, and protect social security and health care to regain support from older voters who have been put off by his handling of the pandemic. Trump also broadcasts spots falsely claiming that Biden is against the police and encouraging rioting.
In Michigan, Trump began airing an ad on Friday portraying the pandemic as in decline, although there are still around 46,000 new infections and 700 deaths daily and nearly 35,000 Americans are now hospitalized with COVID-19. The spot shows Trump leaving the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, as one narrator says: "President Trump is recovering from the coronavirus, and America is too."
Biden's ads also seek to target seniors and target Trump on social security and medical issues. In Tucson, he began a Saturday spot with Cindy McCain saying Biden would "get the best out of us, not the worst," and emphasized his friendship with her late husband, John McCain, a longtime Republican senator from Arizona.
Biden's commercials also promise that he will heed the advice of scientists and medical experts to get the pandemic under control and rebuild the economy in ways that will benefit working-class Americans.
"I will not leave you," says Biden in one of the advertisements.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
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