ORLANDO, Fla. — It’s no secret that Florida is the biggest prize in a general election.
The state’s status as a toss-up and large number of electoral votes means candidates, campaigns, and outside groups will spend millions.
Here are nine things about where that money comes from and where it’s going:
1) Not just ads – While advertising on TV is the most high-profile ways campaigns spend money, in Florida there are also costs for field offices, rallies, staff, and other administrative expenses. In 2018 Rick Scott and Bill Nelson spent almost $205 million on their US Senate race.
2) PAC – The Political Action Committee, or PAC, has been around since 1944. These are the main vehicles for campaigns to function. There are strict limits on how much money a person can give to a PAC.
3) Super PAC – Super PACs started in 2010. The can raise and spend as much money as they want; however, they cannot make any contributions to candidates or parties. Instead, they function independently supporting a candidate or group of candidates.
4) Dark money – This is spending where the source of the money is not disclosed. Since 2010 politically active nonprofits, usually 501(c)(4)'s, have often fallen in this category.
5) Florida cash – According to Open Secrets, in 2012 donors from Florida gave Mitt Romney $18,119,331 while giving Barack Obama $9,678,407. Since 2019 donors in Florida have given $278,819,814 to political campaigns (not just the presidential race). Most of the money has gone to Republicans (59.81%).
6) Florida’s many markets – Florida features three top-20 TV markets (#12 Tampa, #16 Miami, #18 Orlando) as well as West Palm Beach (#36), Jacksonville (#41), and Ft. Myers (#53). No other swing state features as many top-50 markets.
7) Size matters – According to the Wesleyan Media Project there were 5,676 ads aired in the Orlando market from August 10-September 9. The cost for this month of ads came to $4,848,170. By comparison, 5,301 ads were run in La Crosse, Wis. in the same time for a cost of just $1,806,820. La Crosse, Wis. is market #129.
8) Rise of digital – More than $1.6 billion is expected to be spent by the presidential campaigns on digital advertising, according to Advertising Analytics. This spending is in addition to traditional advertising, which has almost doubled since 2016.
9) All about I-4 – Advertising Analytics estimates that spending in the Tampa/Orlando markets will top $225 million in the 2020 presidential election.
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