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Cash-Strapped Trump Campaign Pulls TV Ads in Key States

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Cash-Strapped Trump Campaign Pulls TV Ads in Key States

2020-09-15 17:29:45

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Donald Trump (Image source: Screenshot)

As if there weren't enough problems that Donald Trump is facing in his campaign, it all appears to have just become a little worse. Along with the publication of his purge to Bob Woodward and his critical faux pas of being critical of the military, he seems to be facing a fundraising shortage.

The campaign has inexplicably pulled TV ads in Michigan and Pennsylvania, two swing states Trump narrowly won in 2016. And these are states where he has trailed former Vice President Joe Biden in every poll this year.

It does not seem like a good time to be pulling ads. Following the money, it seems the campaign is cash-strapped, a bit of a surprise for the campaign of a self-professed billionaire.

Further problematic is that Trump is also getting less airtime in other key states, according to Bloomberg. Between August 10 and September 7, Biden spent 97.7 million on broadcast and TV ads; however, Trump only spent $21.6 million, reported Advertising Analytics.

In some of the all-important battleground states, Biden still spent more on TV advertising than Trump. Biden spent 23.2 million in Florida, while Trump only spent $6.4 million. In Arizona, Biden spent $10 million to Trump's $1.4 million. Back on the east coast, Biden spent $11.5 million in North Carolina, with Trump only spending $3.7 million.

It seemed not too long ago that the Trump campaign had a bigger edge financially. Plus, he raised $210 million in August. But the Biden campaign seems to have finally figured out how to work this thing, just in time. While it struggled financially during the primaries, in August it raised $365.4 million.

Last week The Washington Post reported that outside groups had spent $28 million on Trump ads. But still, Biden keeps the advantage here. This leaves Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and other GOP a bit worried about putting a hold on the TV ads.

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, who replaced Brad Parscale just when everything was starting to heat up, sees pulling the TV ads as necessary, wanting to save what they can for the last 30 days of the campaign. He and other campaign officials are showcasing what they see as the president's predominant ground game. They are reminding reporters that four years ago, they were answering similar questions about the priorities in the Trump campaign.

When Trump was facing off against Democratic nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the campaign bypassed a strategy built on TV ads, believing that as a TV star for many years, people didn't need to learn about Trump. Instead, the focus was put on social media. While Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million, he won in the electoral college. It was a smart gamble.

This time the campaign is undertaking a similar strategy, spending more than Biden on digital advertising. It has spent $170 million on Facebook and Google ads starting last year, while the Biden campaign only spent $90 million on digital advertising during that time. The Trump campaign also ran major ads on YouTube and other sites. 

Yet, it seems the ads are only focused on existing Trump supporters, so maybe this strategy will turn out differently for Trump than in 2016. While everyone did know who Trump was four years ago, today they know who he is as a president instead of a reality TV star/real estate mogul. Before voters were willing to give him a chance, other than his confirmed supporters, they may not be so willing anymore.

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