When Will The Dems Get Digital?
The 2016 Presidential campaign was unorthodox to say the least. One of the most surprising aspects was how the Trump team handled their media strategy. On the surface it looked like Trump was being massively outspent by Clinton because of his lack of weight on TV and other traditional media outlets. But as we now know, behind the scenes the Trump org was driving a major push on Google, Facebook and other social media pubs. It’s arguable that these paid digital campaigns, plus the amplification of third party supporters, put Trump in the White House.
With that recent history in mind, you’d think the Democrats would be completely focused on digital media for the midterms. However, the Dems are still way behind the GOP in this department. Right now the average Democratic candidate is only allocating 10-15% to digital, when other industries are spending 30-50% of their budgets online. The Democrats seem to be stuck in an early 2000s mindset, still allocating 60-70% of their budgets to TV and direct mail. Yes, you read that right . . . direct mail! Maybe the Dems think their audience isn’t technologically sophisticated enough to receive a digital ad? Even if that’s the case their media mix seems decidedly old school.
On the other side of the coin Trump and team are already leveraging digital for 2020. According to Google’s new political disclosure tool the Trump Make America Great Again Committee has already spent $630K in digital ads this year, making it the number two spender in the category for 2018. And BTW, the top spender is another right-wing Super PAC called One Nation. You can bet these guys will spend even more digitally as we get into 2019 and 2020. The only question is whether or not the Democrats will figure out the digital game by then.