We all knew there was a tidal wave of cash coming in the 2016 election cycle. After record political advertising spending in 2012, many media professionals and politicos estimated a grand total of $6-8 billion to be paid in this cycle.
Well, according to a new study from the Wesleyan Media Project, the political advertising business is booming. The media analysis group estimates that $1.56 billion has been spent in the 2015-2016 already – and that has paid for a grand total of 2,032,307 ad airings.
Nearly a third of that –$517 million – has been spent on the presidential election alone. The rest has been spent on Gubernatorial candidates, Senate and House candidates, and other down-ballot candidates and measures.
Donald Trump Has a Lot of Ground to Make Up
Although the Donald Trump campaign recently announced that it will (finally) start airing political ads in key battleground states, the Wesleyan Media Project found that the Hillary Clinton campaign and its allies have outspent Trump – by huge margins.
The Ad Battle for Battleground States
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top ten markets for presidential ad spending are all in four battleground states: Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina.
Nothing Nice to Say
The Wesleyan Media Project also found that about half of the presidential ads that have been aired are purely negative ads. About 70% contained at least one attack in them. Interestingly, 2016 has actually been more positive than the 2012 race, in which only 14% of ads aired at this point were positive.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that political advertising in 2016 was up 9% over 2012. Political advertising is down 16% in 2016 compared to 2012. The article has been updated to reflect this correction.