Joe Biden’s presidential campaign unveiled a $280-million advertising blitz on Wednesday that it says will keep the presumptive Democratic nominee “on offense” in 15 states, including Republican-leaning states where Democrats have not seriously competed in decades.
The advertising effort consists of $220 million in television ads and $60 million in digital ads. The campaign would not say how much it is spending in each state, but it is planning to advertise in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Colorado, Virginia, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Texas.
In a call with reporters on Tuesday night, Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon contrasted the investment with President Donald Trump campaign’s “smaller footprint.” Trump’s planned $145 million in advertising is both smaller in absolute terms and limited to fewer states.
“Our approach is to go on offense,” O’Malley Dillon said.
“We have been building our campaign to reach and create a diverse and bold coalition,” she added. “We have been also at the same time building multiple pathways to 270 electoral votes.”
The list of states that Biden is targeting is notable for states like Texas and Georgia, which Democrats haven’t seriously contested in decades.
But Biden is also not taking for granted states like Minnesota, Colorado and Virginia that have been reliably Democratic for several consecutive presidential elections.
A significant chunk of the Biden campaign’s advertising blitz will go toward spots on media outlets that cater specifically to Black, Latino and Asian American voters, according to campaign spokesperson Symone Sanders. Sanders noted that the campaign has been advertising on those types of constituency-specific outlets since June.
“Oftentimes we hear so much how campaigns wait until six to eight weeks out from Election Day to start communicating to African American and Latino voters,” Sanders said. “But we have been clear that African American and Latino voters are key parts of our general election strategy and what we’re presenting to you today underscores that commitment.”
The ads will promote Biden’s qualities as a leader capable of unifying the country and steering it through the novel coronavirus pandemic and associated economic fallout. They often feature Biden speaking directly to voters and last for 60 seconds, rather than the more conventional 30 seconds.
“You have one candidate, Joe Biden, who is speaking clearly and directly in a crisis that people are living through in terms of the public health, in terms of the economy, in terms of the future of the country,” said Biden adviser Mike Donilon. “The Trump campaign is unable to do that.”
Asked whether Biden would consider doing some kind of regular “counter-programming” to offset the effect of Trump press briefings that are expected to grow more frequent as the election approaches, Biden communications director Kate Bedingfield said Biden would not.
“I don’t think that we need to be counter-programming,” Bedingfield said. “I think from the start of the campaign we have run on our message.”
The Trump campaign has booked about $145 million worth of television advertising for the fall, with most of that spending focused in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan, according to Kantar/CMAG. Priorities USA, the largest Democratic super PAC, has reserved nearly $50 million worth of television time.
Trump’s campaign has already aired $91 million worth of ads, to seemingly little effect. Biden has consistent leads in public polling, both nationally and in swing states, as voters revolt against the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump’s reelection effort briefly paused its television advertising last week to reevaluate strategy, before launching new ads on Monday aiming to paint the moderate Biden as a tool of his party’s left. The new ads are focused on states like Florida and North Carolina with extensive early voting.