Ballots are being mailed out in what could be one of the year’s most expensive U.S. Senate contests
FWIW, this week’s newsletter is sponsored by Civic Shout.
This week, ballots began to be sent out in California’s competitive U.S. Senate election - a race that pits three high-profile Congressional Democrats against each other with a little-known Republican candidate tagging along. In this week’s FWIW, we’ll reveal how much each candidate has been spending to reach voters online throughout the campaign.
We’ll also share Kyrsten Sinema’s brand new re-election campaign ads, highlight which party watches streaming platforms more, and pour one out for Marianne Williamson. But first…
By the numbers
FWIW, political advertisers spent just over $8.6 million on Facebook and Instagram ads last week. These were the top ten spenders nationwide:
Independent presidential candidate and anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was one of the top spending political advertisers on Facebook and Instagram ads nationwide last week. Democrats probably shouldn’t fret though, as the majority of his spending was just to promote an insane assortment of campaign merch - from pet hoodies to crop tops and “chill wine tumblers.”
Makena Kelly at WIRED reported this week “Why RFK Jr. Is Suddenly Everywhere Online.”
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) still hasn’t announced whether she’s running for re-election in what could be a chaotic and expensive three-way race in the Grand Canyon State. However, for months, her campaign has been quietly running Facebook ads highlighting her work on the border deal negotiations - and the word on the street is that successful border legislation would have served as a catalyst for her reelection campaign. Now that Republicans killed the bipartisan plan to secure the border, Sinema is up with new video and fundraising ads blaming “Washington partisans.”
Meanwhile, political campaigns spent $2.8 million on Google and YouTube ads last week. Here were the top ten spenders nationwide:
AFC Victory Fund, an offshoot of the American Federation for Children, is running new ads in Texas attacking Republican legislators who sided with Democrats in order to “block school choice” in the Lone Star State.
On Snapchat, political advertisers in the U.S. have spent $96,100 on ads year to date. Here are the top spenders:
…and lastly, here are the top spending political advertisers on X (formerly Twitter) in 2024:
One notable advertiser on X/Twitter last week was @bldgUSAfuture, an account that belongs to a conservative group called Building America's Future. Its ads rail against the Chinese Communist Party, and several of its organic posts on X/Twitter are in support of Republican PA Senate candidate Dave McCormick’s campaign.
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Your 2024 digital dispatch
FWIW, here’s how weekly digital ad spending (Facebook/Instagram, Google/YouTube) compares between the Trump and Biden campaigns year-to-date:
Donald Trump’s campaign continued to spend very little on digital ads this week - his total was only ~$51,000 (compared to Biden’s $1 million average weekly spend). This comes simultaneously as news that Trump’s legal battles are being paid for with his campaign dollars.
From around the internet:
The AI robocall that spoofed President Biden’s voice and told New Hampshirites not to vote in their state primary has been linked to a pair of Texas-based telecommunications companies. Yesterday, the FCC announced that AI-generated voices in robocalls will be considered illegal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Today in dystopian nightmare vibes: disinformation watchdog groups have uncovered a covert, coordinated Russian effort to spread disinformation via Telegram and X/Twitter across the Texas border about a US Civil War.
A new study reveals that liberals are more likely than conservatives to consume content on streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.
At a time when small-dollar donations are relatively scarce, an NYT analysis of FEC data found that more donors have given small donations ($200 or less) to Donald Trump’s campaign than President Biden’s.
POLITICO profiled the smart new Democratic fundraising platform, Oath, which aims to help donors optimize their giving based on the actual impact their dollars will have.
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This week, ballots began to be sent out to voters in California’s competitive U.S. Senate election - a race that pits three high-profile Democrats against each other with a little-known Republican candidate tagging along. A recent poll from USC showed Rep. Adam Schiff (D) in the lead, with Rep. Katie Porter (D) and Steve Garvey (R) tied for second place. Rep. Barbara Lee, the third high-profile Democratic member of Congress in the race, has lagged behind for months.
FWIW, here’s how much each of these candidates has spent on digital ads over the course of the campaign:
As you can see, Schiff and Porter have effectively spent the same amount of money on digital advertising. Both are hugely impressive grassroots fundraisers, and they employ two of the Democratic Party’s top digital firms: Authentic (Schiff) and Middle Seat (Porter).
While many Democrats have refrained from advertising on Elon Musk’s X, both of these campaigns have bought ads on the platform in order to reach grassroots Democrats for a fundraising boost.
It’s notable that Republican Steve Garvey has spent 0 dollars online. There was a mini-scandal last week with Porter accusing Schiff of promoting Garvey’s candidacy in his ads in order to block her out from second place.
One more thing: Cringe-Sync
Democratic gadfly presidential candidate Marianne Williamson officially dropped out of the race this week - but not before she gifted us a final bit of good internet content. I was listening to the latest episode of my team’s Vibes Only podcast on Wednesday and it was brought to my attention that her campaign hosted a TikTok live series with former boy band star Lance Bass.
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If only all campaigns ended this way.
That’s it for FWIW this week! This email was sent to 18,725 readers. Help us reach more subscribers by forwarding this week’s issue to your colleagues!