TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s record-breaking campaign season continues to scale stunning new heights, with the presidential campaigns and their allies preparing to spend at least a quarter of a billion dollars on television ad time between now and Nov. 3.
The ad barrage is a reminder of Florida’s outsized role in the presidential election. President Donald Trump, who narrowly won the state in 2016, is unlikely to win a second term in the White House if he loses his adopted home state.
The jaw-dropping ad spending, which is $100 million more than what was spent four years ago in the battleground state, raises questions about the effectiveness of wall-to-wall television ads, especially when the vast majority of voters have already made up their minds.
“The notion of a persuadable voter at this point is really hard to believe,” said Ryan Tyson, a Florida-based Republican pollster who said his recent surveys have shown that more than 90 percent of voters have decided who they will choose for president.
An analysis by Advertising Analytics conducted at POLITICO‘s request showed that as of this week, Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, and their allies, have purchased or plan to spend $243 million. When radio and digital advertising is included, the total jumps to $264 million.
Florida is the undisputed leader in television advertising across the nation. Pennsylvania is second with $156.5 million in buys so far, and North Carolina is third with nearly $107 million.
The Florida total doesn’t reflect the full impact of billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s pledge to spend $100 million in the Sunshine State to help defeat Trump. So far, Bloomberg’s main PAC has reserved just shy of $30 million in air time.
But Bloomberg has funneled money to other PACS spending money in Florida with new ad buys being announced nearly every day. Earlier this week, Priorities USA and BlackPAC said they were launching a $3.4 million ad campaign aimed at Black voters that was funded by Bloomberg.
There are ads running in English and Spanish statewide, addressing an array of topics that include the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, law and order, socialism, Israel, health care, and Trump’s appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Fernand Amandi, a Miami-based Democratic strategist who produced ads for President Barack Obama in 2012, wonders if the messages are getting through.
“If we are not there already, we are quickly approaching the point of diminishing returns,” Amandi said. “It all becomes white noise. It all starts to blur for the voters and they begin proactively tuning it out.”
Ads can be used to motivate base voters, but one political consultant privately said the tsunami of ads reflects a “CYA” attitude among strategists who fear getting blamed if they don’t match their opponents‘ spending.
According to Advertising Analytics, the Biden campaign has spent or reserved $77 million in airtime, compared to Trump’s $69 million.
The two campaigns have aimed most of their firepower at media markets in Orlando, with $40.2 million in spending, and Tampa, with $36.2 million. The two markets collectively include an 18-county region known as the I-4 corridor, an area that’s home to a large number of swing voters that is targeted every election cycle.
The Biden and Trump campaigns have spent nearly $33 million combined in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale media market.