The Trump re-election campaign is pulling television ads from the air in several swing states including Ohio, Iowa, and Nevada amid concerns about over-spending and a smaller-than-expected August fundraising haul.
The president did haul in a record amount of money in August — a staggering $210 million — but the number fell short of what 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, pulled in. Biden’s campaign collected a whopping $364.5 million — the largest amount raised in a single month of fundraising in presidential campaign history.
With just 50 days left in the 2020 presidential campaign, the change from blanket spending to “strategic spending” is an odd one for an incumbent, but the Trump 2020 operation says its reallocating funds to strategies that are working, rather than spending money on large-scale advertising on basic cable television. While Biden is blanketing the airwaves, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee say they’re investing in a ground campaign, knocking doors and contacting likely voters, instead.
“Both campaigns are raising massive amounts of money, but have very different priorities about how to spend it,” Biden’s campaign manager admitted to CNN. “In addition to advertising, President Trump’s campaign has invested heavily in a muscular field operation and ground game that will turn out our voters while the Biden campaign is waging almost exclusively an air war.”
The RNC called the in-person campaign “the most sophisticated ground game in history,” in an announcement also noting that they’d recruited more than 2 million volunteers to handle voter communication and get-out-the-vote operations.
Although the ad pull is unusual, The Washington Post points out that increased ad spending hasn’t gotten Biden very far, and despite spending more than five times as much on television ads in the month of August, Biden’s lead over the president narrowed even in states like Nevada where he is up now by only five points after previously leading by double digits.
The problem, as The Washington Post points out, though, is that downticket candidates — Republicans running for Congressional, state, and local seats — often rely on the big-spending presidential candidate to boost their name recognition and move their party’s voters to the polls where many often vote straight ticket. Without Trump 2020 television ads, some Republicans are worried they may be left out in the cold.
“Republicans working on Senate and House races, however, have been alarmed,” the Washington Post notes, “as they have seen Democrats take over the airwaves in parts of the country where lower-ranking candidates are depending on the president to carry them to victory.”
Donors are also reportedly concerned. At one point, President Donald Trump had a near-billion dollar advantage over his opponent — an advantage that seems to have evaporated. Some of that money has gone to legal bills and hiring, according to The New York Times, and in some cases, the campaign appears to have overpaid for hotel rooms, food, and other expenses campaigns typically tangle with.