Things were supposed to be different for Donald Trump this time around.
Unlike in 2016, when he ran a deeply underfunded campaign against Hillary Clinton, his 2020 reelection race would be a Rolls-Royce effort. Trump opened his 2020 fundraising committee on the day he was inaugurated as the 45th President and, in total, through a variety of entities has already spent more than $1 billion on his bid for a second term, according to The Associated Press.
And yet, even with all of that money, Trump is being dominated by former Vice President Joe Biden in ad spending in the vast majority of swing states.
Calculations made by CNN’s David Wright reveal that Biden’s campaign has spent far more than Trump’s on ads in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Colorado and New Hampshire.
And in some of those places it’s not even close. Biden has spent $98 million to Trump’s $69 million on ads in Florida. In Pennsylvania, it’s a whopping $33 million gap; $61 million for Biden to $28 million for Trump.
Trump’s campaign has outspent Biden’s in only four competitive states: Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Texas. At the start of the 2020 campaign, few politicos – of either party – would have predicted that Trump would be in any serious trouble in any of that quartet of states, all of which he won by 5 points or more in 2016. And yet, polling in all four states now suggests Biden and Trump are running neck and neck.
Now. Money – whether spent on TV ads or anything else – isn’t determinative in a presidential election. If it were, Hillary Clinton would be president right now.
But spending on TV does indicate where each of the campaigns believes its biggest opportunities – and vulnerabilities – lie.
And that Trump is not only being drowned out by Biden in the vast majority of swing states but also being forced to spend heavily in places like Texas and Georgia tells you everything you need to know about the current state of this campaign.
The Point: For all of their early bragging, the Trump campaign finds itself right where it was at this point in 2016 – swamped on TV and hoping for a miracle. And most people don’t get two miracles in a lifetime.