Welcome to FWIW, ACRONYM’s weekly newsletter breaking down digital ad investment across the political spectrum. Each week, we look at whose digital spending is up, whose is down, and whose is non-existent.
For what it’s worth, some of it might surprise you.
2019 isn’t starting out well for Virginia. With scandals plaguing the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, Democrats in the Old Dominion are suddenly seeing a shortage of statewide leadership – and it comes just months before the state legislative elections where the margins over which party controls both chambers are razor thin.
This week, we did a special Virginia-focused FWIW, where we looked at who’s already investing in digital ads to influence the November 2019 elections – and how the controversies at the top of the ticket are (or aren’t) playing into their strategies.
2020 by the numbers
Here’s a list of top political spenders on Facebook and Google platforms the week of Feb 3-9.
Here is the weekly investment by both of Donald Trump’s campaign committees on Facebook and Google platforms since November 2018. So far, his campaign has spent over $4.1 million on Facebook and Google for the 2020 cycle.
Among the Democratic presidential contenders, for the second week in a row Cory Booker spent the most on Google and Facebook platforms combined.
FWIW Special: Virginia Edition
This week, we’re doing a preview of our BRAND NEW weekly FWIW content stream focused on digital investment and activity in Virginia in advance of the 2019 state legislative elections. Each week, in addition to our national FWIW newsletter, we’ll break down competitive spending and trending issues that are popping up in voters’ social feeds across the Commonwealth. You can sign up for FWIW Virginia here.
State legislative elections are some of the most critical races that impact voters’ daily lives: these elected officials vote on issues ranging from health care to voting rights, they play a direct role in the redistricting process, and these seats are where both parties build their bench of future leaders. Yet these race also are some of the least covered or invested in.
That’s why ACRONYM ran the largest digital program in history last cycle focused on state legislative elections, and will continue to make these races a priority in 2019 and 2020.
Virginia is for…spenders?
We’re only a couple months into 2019, but already organizations and candidates on both sides of the aisle are running digital ads in Virginia. Here’s a comparison between overall investment by party committees, statehouse leadership and candidates in competitive state legislative districts since November 2018.
Spotlight: The Commonwealth of controversies
Between the scandals at the top of the ticket and debates over women’s health and minimum wage in the current legislative session, we looked at how these controversies are playing into Republicans’ and Democrats’ digital ad strategies.
On the Republican side, we saw much more advertising dollars spent to amplify the abortion debate rather than the Northam and Herring blackface controversies, and didn’t see any ads related to Justin Fairfax.
On the Democratic side, most of the investment was from individual candidates amplifying their own messages, unrelated to the controversies at the top of the ticket. However, we did find one Virginia State Senate candidate who put advertising dollars behind her call for Governor Northam to step down:
The scandals related to the top of the ticket are much more likely to be referenced by national groups unrelated to the Virginia legislative elections – as a means to leverage the controversies to build lists, expand their audiences, or fundraise. Take a look at a few examples:
Sign up for regular Virginia updates
If you’re like us and will be following the Virginia state legislative elections closely, sign up for FWIW Virginia. We’ll be launching the weekly edition soon, so keep an eye out for it in the coming weeks.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading and make sure to follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the week and email us with ideas of what you’d like us to dive into next.
– The team at ACRONYM
P.S. Here’s a sign-up link you can share with friends and colleagues for our national FWIW newsletter. You can find today’s issue here.