Trump plays defense by outspending Biden on Facebook in states he won

President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s campaign has largely gone off the air with TV ads in Ohio, Texas, Iowa and Nebraska, which he easily won in 2016.

But he is outspending Joe Biden with targeted Facebook ads in those states over at least the past week, according to the social media giant’s ad tracker. 

Biden’s team has flooded the TV airwaves in the four states over the past two weeks, according to the ad tracking firm Advertising Analytics. Trump has mostly gone dark in the states, with the exception of a $22,000 TV spend in Nebraska during the week of Sept. 27. Over the same period, Biden spent more than $350,000 on cable and TV ads there. 

The Trump campaign’s decision to focus more on targeted social media ads in these areas as opposed to TV messaging comes as polls show the president trailing Biden with just under a month to go until Election Day. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Biden ahead of Trump by 14 points. Facebook ads more effectively target specific blocs of voters than do TV ads.

While Trump’s campaign has overall outspent Biden’s in the 2020 election cycle, the former vice president has been outspending the commander in chief’s operation since early September on TV and digital ads. Biden and the Democratic National Committee came into September with more cash on hand compared with Trump and the Republican National Committee. 

Both campaigns are targeting Facebook users in states that could tip the election. Between Sept. 29 and Monday, Trump’s campaign edged out Biden’s in Facebook ad spending in Texas, Iowa, Ohio and Nebraska. Biden was ahead of Trump in Facebook spending going into this week in critical states such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and in some cases by wide margins. Trump won all seven states in 2016.

Trump’s team, through his Make America Great Again Committee, spent just over $195,000 in Texas, while Biden’s Victory Fund put up a notch above $173,000 there. Both joint fundraising committees raise money for the individual campaigns and either the Democratic or Republican National Committees. 

In Ohio, the president’s joint committee has spent just over $138,000 focusing on voters there just this past week alone, while Trump’s campaign notched just over $82,000 in the Buckeye State. Biden’s joint committee has spent a little more than $60,000 over the past seven days. 

In Iowa, Trump’s joint committee has spent just under $90,000, while the campaign spent another $40,000. Biden’s Victory Fund put up just over $55,000. 

Trump spent a little more than Biden in Nebraska: just over $37,000 compared to $30,000 from the Biden Victory Fund. Polls show Biden leading the race for the electoral vote in the state’s second congressional district. Otherwise, Nebraska is a reliably red state, and Trump won its three districts in 2016.

Trump is also slightly outspending Biden on Facebook ads in Arizona, North Carolina and Nevada, according to data reflecting the past seven days. Trump won Arizona and North Carolina in 2016, but lost Nevada.

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