In Defying the Odds, we discuss campaign finance and campaign technology. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.
Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman at NYT:
President Trump’s campaign has far less money than advisers had once anticipated for the final stretch of the presidential election, as rosy revenue projections failed to materialize, leaving aides scrambling to address a severe financial disadvantage against Joseph R. Biden Jr. at the race’s most crucial juncture.
To close the budgetary shortfall, Mr. Trump has slashed millions of dollars in previously reserved television ads and detoured from the battleground states that will decide the election for a stop in California last weekend to refill his campaign coffers. He has also tried to jump-start his online fund-raising with increasingly aggressive tactics, sending out as many as 14 email solicitations in a day.
But Mr. Biden still entered October with nearly triple the campaign money as Mr. Trump — $177 million to $63.1 million — and is leveraging that edge to expand the battleground map just as Mr. Trump is forced to retrench.
Despite raising more than $1.5 billion in tandem with the Republican Party since 2019, Mr. Trump is now in the same financial straits as he was four years ago, when Hillary Clinton had roughly double the money he did. The financial pinch has engulfed his advisers and party officials in something of an internal blame game after years of bragging about their fund-raising prowess, according to current and former campaign and administration officials. Republican allies, meanwhile, are wondering where all the money went.
“Campaigns that are trailing two weeks before the election, there is always a lot of finger pointing,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist and former adviser on Senator Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign. “And asking where the money went is always the first question.”
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s $100 million investment in Florida to defeat Donald Trump is recasting the presidential contest in the president’s must-win state, forcing his campaign to spend big to shore up his position and freeing up Democratic cash to expand the electoral map elsewhere.
Bloomberg’s massive advertising and ground-game spending, which began roughly a month ago, has thrown Trump into a defensive crouch across the arc of Sunbelt states. As a result, the president‘s campaign has scaled back its TV ad buys in crucial Northern swing states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan — a vacuum being filled by a constellation of outside political groups backing Joe Biden.
A gigantic fundraising haul and outsized spending by a super PAC led by close allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have alarmed Senate Democrats, who fear their candidates may be outspent down the stretch of the election despite record grassroots fundraising.
Senate Leadership Fund, the super political action committee controlled by McConnell allies, raised $92 million in September and began October with more than $103 million in the bank, according to a Federal Election Commission report filed Tuesday afternoon. Those huge sums, collected mostly from checks of donors who gave more than $1 million and in some cases have not revealed themselves, have helped Senate Republicans gain a financial edge in several key races.
Over the final days of the election, according to the Democrats tracking media buys, Republicans are set to outspend Democrats on TV in four key Senate races: Michigan, where Democrats are hopeful Sen. Gary Peters can defend his seat against Republican John James; Georgia, where Democrat Jon Ossoff is looking to knock off GOP Sen. David Perdue; Kansas, where Democratic state Sen. Barbara Bollier is battling Rep. Roger Marshall for an open seat; and in South Carolina, where Democrat Jaime Harrison is putting a scare into GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham.
With this election, your station needs to be ready to comply with all of the FCC’s political advertising rules.
Lowest unit charges (or “Lowest Unit Rates”) guarantee that, in the 45 days before a primary and the 60 days before a general election, legally qualified candidates get the lowest rate for a spot that is then running on the station within any class of advertising time and particular daypart.
In modern political elections, where PACs, Super PACs and other non-candidate interest groups are buying much political advertising time, broadcasters need to remember that these spots don’t require lowest unit rates. Even if the picture or recognizable voice of the candidate that the PAC is supporting appears in the ad, spots that are sponsored by an independent organization not authorized by the candidate do not get lowest unit rates (note, however, that spots purchased by independent groups featuring the voice or picture of the candidate may trigger public file and equal opportunities obligations for the station if the station decides to run those spots). Stations can charge these advertisers anything that the station wants for non-candidate ads – no need to stick to lowest unit rates.