Data Tell Story of Democrat Ad Buys, Fundraising, Search Popularity

By Red Line Project |  @RedLineProject | Posted: Sunday, March 1, 2020

With Super Tuesday approaching, the Red Line Project data team examined Democratic candidates' fundraising, ad buys and their search popularity entering the biggest stage of the primary.

Sanders, Biden Dominating Google Search Throughout Campaign

Bernie Sanders, the US Senator from Vermont, has held a lead in Google searches since Feb. 8 (excluding the Daytona 500 on Feb. 16) and into early March.

Not surprisingly, February Google searches of Sanders had the greatest concentration in his constituency of Vermont. Sanders has received 60 delegates as of March 2, needing 1,991 to win the nomination. Trailing Sanders is Joe Biden, 53 delegates and Pete Buttigieg with 26 delegates, who dropped his presidential campaign over the weekend. 

While the data does not predict who will be successful in the coming debates, it does reflect the level of voter engagement following the success of each candidate’s performance. You can see the trends in Google searches of the candidates in the interactive chart below -- Kate Perschke

Three-Month Analysis

Here are each of the Democratic candidates ranked 1-8 by Google search popularity. Update: The data was compiled prior to  Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and Amy Klobuchar dropping out of the race.

Democratic Candidates have received a wide range of Google search results, with some succeeding consistently and others demonstrating sharp highs and lows. The data analysis in the chart below reflects weekly searches from Dec. 27, 2018, to Feb. 12, 2020, which was curated by the Google News Lab's Trends team.

Elizabeth Warren, for example, began in the lead, in searches, and mostly placed in fourth or better until Oct. 31 2019, when she skyrocketed to first and then quickly dropped to sixth. She then steadily rose in the next few weeks before ending this race in sixth place.

Another example is Michael Bloomberg who mostly placed in seventh or last (eighth) place until, consequently – the week of Oct. 31, 2019. His race from this point shows dramatic rises and drops until he finishes in second place after Bernie Sanders who placed first. -- Tom Ackerman

Bloomberg Goes Big on Facebook Ad Buys

It’s no secret that Mike Bloomberg’s been pumping money into the Democratic primary race. But, exactly how much?

In the last 90 days, Bloomberg has outspent every other Democratic candidate, combined. Altogether, they reach $20,140,841, just over 53% of Bloomberg spending.

Data on the candidates' Facebook ad buys are available through Facebook’s Ad Library Report. Launched in Oct 2018, the tool discloses political advertisement spending, targeting, and other details. The library includes candidates, PACs, and other politically-affiliated groups.

Facebook ad spending is just part of the campaign finance picture. Total fundraising numbers are tracked daily by NPR-- Brody Ford

Campaign Fundraising 2017-2020

Other than Donald Trump in 2016, who personally funded most of his campaign, presidential candidates rely on fundraising as their main means of funding their presidential campaign.

With this in mind, fundraising can sometimes be an indicator of which candidates people are ahead or  behind in the race. This graphic -- compiled from FEC.gov data -- compares candidate fundraising from 2017 to January 2020. -- Myles Franklin-Bey

Democrat Ad Buys in 2020

Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, has put millions into his presidential campaign. Refusing to accept outside money, Bloomberg has spent more money on online ads than Trump has on both TV and digital campaigns. -- Kateryna Maslovska

Bloomberg Dominating Ad Spending

Michael Bloomberg has spent $351 million on advertising thus far, seen to many as an attempt to "buy" the 2020 presidential election. -- Melah Lofton

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