Washington CNN —  

So far this year, 2020 presidential candidates have spent almost $41 million on TV ads promoting their campaigns. Which is interesting!

But not nearly as interesting as this: Candidates not named “Tom Steyer” have spent just $6 million on TV ads, according to CNN’s David Wright. Meaning that Steyer, the billionaire Democrat, has dropped more than $35 million on ads in support of a candidacy that appears to be almost entirely lifeless.

Steyer, according to his fundraising report filed with the Federal Election Commission earlier this month, had put almost $48 million of his own money toward the campaign as of the end of last month. He appears to have plowed the vast majority of that personal investment into TV ads aimed at raising his name ID among Democratic voters. 

It does not appear to be working. In CNN’s latest 2020 poll, released earlier this month, Steyer took just 1% of the vote – unchanged from where he stood in CNN polling in September. And August. Steyer qualified for the October debate – the first debate stage he’s made – but didn’t leave much of an impression. Less than 1% of respondents in the CNN poll said they thought he had done the best job in the debate.

Steyer’s massive spending makes two things very clear:

Those are both good things to keep in mind as we consider the state of the race with fewer than 100 days left before the Iowa caucuses. Many of our assumptions about what matters and who is where are based on a campaign that has yet to really begin for the average voter even in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

  1. Money is not determinative in presidential primaries – especially when people don’t respond to the messenger behind all that money.
  2. The air wars on the Democratic side haven’t even begun yet.

The Point: The only beneficiary of Tom Steyer’s candidacy so far is people who own TV stations.