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Billionaire Candidate Spending May Shape Future Races

Matt Rourke / Richard Drew
Democratic presidential candidates, and billionaires, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, as photographed at different events in 2018.

Two self-funded billionaires are spending so much money on advertising in the Democratic primary for U.S. president that it might affect future races. That’s the finding of the latest report by the Wesleyan Media Project.

The Wesleyan report finds that billionaire Tom Steyer has spent $114 million on TV ads focused heavily on the early nomination states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Michael Bloomberg has spent $200 million but with a much broader approach. He’s targeting states that vote later, where other candidates are yet to begin campaigning.

Michael Franz with the Wesleyan Media Project says Bloomberg has a novel strategy.

“If he doesn’t win the nomination, future candidates will know that you can’t win the nomination with ads alone. And if he does, it might suggest that an aggressive TV strategy is still a very successful approach.”

Bloomberg is also ahead of his rivals in hiring campaign staff in states that vote later. He already has a campaign team up and running in Connecticut, where the primary will be in April.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.