Biden campaign announces $280 million ad buy through fall

Joe Biden’s Democratic presidential campaign is reserving $280 million in digital and television ads through the fall

The Biden campaign announced in a Wednesday memo it’s reserving $220 million in television airtime and $60 million in digital ads, in contrast to the $147 million the Trump campaign has reserved, according to a review of Kantar/CMAG data by The Associated Press. Both campaigns can add to or subtract from their reservations at any time.

The buy reflects the Biden campaign's improved fundraising machine. Along with the Democratic National Committee and joint fundraising committees, it raised a combined $140 million in July. The committees have a total $294 million cash on hand. Biden struggled to raise funds during the primary but has been ramping up his efforts since becoming the presumptive nominee and has worked to close the fundraising gap with the Trump campaign.

Biden is reserving airtime in 15 states, which includes a number of traditional swing states — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida — as well as a number of historically Republican states, including Arizona, Georgia and Texas, and a few traditional swing states that seemed to be moving away from Democrats in recent years, such as Ohio and Iowa. His campaign says a “significant portion” of the reservation will be minute-long ads.

It’s part of an effort to solidify what Biden aides say are the multiple paths to an Electoral College victory open to Biden heading into November. The campaign says it will continue to drive home a message focused on what it says is Trump’s lack of leadership on the coronavirus and that it sees Biden as the best messenger in the ads.

But campaign aides said Biden’s vice presidential pick, whom he’s expected to announce next week, will have a “robust presence” on the campaign, including advertising.

On digital, the campaign is reserving ads on streaming services like Hulu, YouTube and ESPN, as well as podcasts and mobile and online gaming platforms.

“We know that in a pandemic, we are in unprecedented times,” said Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon. “We’ve seen chaos in recent primary elections, and we know that our responsibility is to make sure that we give voters everything they need to be able to vote, vote early and vote safely. We believe that our advertising strategy is going to do just that and serve as a way to break through from a lot of the misinformation out there.”

In the memo, Biden’s aides also highlighted their advertising efforts aimed at key constituencies, like Black, Latino and Asian American and Pacific Islander voters. They say they’re able to reach about half of all Black households nationwide through their reservations on key Black media properties and note they’re airing ads that feature different Spanish accents targeting diverse Latino populations in key regions nationwide.

At the Trump reelection campaign, spokesman Tim Murtaugh tried to frame Biden's expanding footprint as a sign the Democratic challenger is in peril.

“We look forward to the Biden ad that brags about surrendering his entire agenda to socialists Bernie Sanders and AOC,” Murtaugh said, referring to Biden's recent policy work with Sanders, his former 2020 primary rival, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “This is clearly an attempt to cover up the fact that he’s playing defense, running ads in Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Virginia? Bad signs for Biden.”

Murtaugh named five states that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

According to data from Kantar/CMAG, a market research and consulting firm, Trump's advertising effort also involves a considerable amount of defense. His five largest state outlays thus far are Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, all states where he topped Clinton four years ago.

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Associated Press reporter Bill Barrow contributed from Atlanta.