Donald Trump’s campaign has slashed its advertising budget in Florida, relying on the Republican National Committee to carry the message there as the president’s re-election effort moves resources to the industrial northern states that carried him to victory in 2016.
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Since Labor Day, Trump has cut $24 million from his national ad budget, while former Vice President Joe Biden has added $197 million. Biden has outspent Trump three-to-one over that time nationally, according to data compiled from ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics.
The president’s campaign still has $350,275 budgeted to spend on ads in Florida through Election Day, but has cancelled $5.5 million in the final two weeks of the campaign, the data showed.
The RNC is picking up some of that slack, buying $4 million in ads beginning last week. It’s now airing an ad in Florida attacking Biden on Medicare, falsely claiming that the Biden health care plan would eliminate private health insurance.
By comparison, Biden has booked $16.7 million in ads in Florida for the last 15 days of the campaign, compared with $4.3 million for Trump and the RNC, according to Advertising Analytics.
The Trump campaign held a call with reporters on Tuesday to discuss Biden’s positions on fracking and the state of play in Pennsylvania. Communications Director Tim Murtaugh said the campaign’s organizational strength in Florida would carry the state into Trump’s column on Election Night as Republicans get more in-person voters to the polls.
“We are spending more in Florida, and we are winning big in Florida,” Trump said in a tweet late Tuesday night after a campaign rally in Nebraska.
“You have to have a ground game. Joe Biden does not have one. The president does,” Murtaugh said. “That’s why you saw the president close the gap in Florida.”
Campaigns often lock in advertising time early in the campaign, reserving the best time slots at the lowest rates. They often move that time to other states, stations or time slots as they adjust their strategies.
The Trump campaign said publicly available data doesn’t account for all its television spending, which includes local cable systems not included in Advertising Analytics data. The campaign said it has $61 million of television ads already booked through the election.
Kaelan Dorr, the Trump campaign’s chief marketing officer, said it is spending six figures on Spanish-language ads, six figures on cable and six figures on radio in Florida.
“Our TV budget in the state has remained consistent week by week. We have invested seven figures in the state this week alone. We’re up 4 points in polls, we’re up consistently and we kind of look forward to celebrating with the people on November,” Dorr said.
The RNC, however, is now paying for those ads.
Biden and Trump are effectively tied in the RealClearPolitics average of polls for the state.
About 312,000 more registered Republicans have voted in person in Florida than registered Democrats since early voting began a week ago. But Democrats lead by more than 615,000 votes in mail-in voting, according to the US Elections Project, giving Democrats a 41.8% to 37.1% overall advantage.
“Florida is going to go the president’s way,” Murtaugh said.
The Trump campaign itself is now placing most of his advertising budget on just four battleground states: Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania, with advertising buys of more than $1 million in each state. Polls show he’s behind in all those states but Ohio, where he and Biden are effectively tied.
The Biden campaign has added $41 million to its ad budget in the home stretch, pouring more money into every battleground state except Texas. Through Election Day, the campaign has budgeted $8.3 million in Florida, $7.1 million in Pennsylvania, $5.3 million in Michigan and $4.9 million in North Carolina.
In the final week, Biden is set to outspend Trump in every battleground state except for Minnesota and Ohio, where Biden still maintains an overall advantage.