‘I don't buy that you can win a presidential nomination' on ads alone: Nate Silver

FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver looks at whether expensive ad campaigns will be enough for candidates like Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg to win in 2020.
2:40 | 12/22/19

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Transcript for ‘I don't buy that you can win a presidential nomination' on ads alone: Nate Silver
I'm not going to change my policies. I feel very strongly I have the wherewithal to run a campaign without having any conflicts. I'm not going to take money from anybody else. People -- some of these candidates criticize me for spending a lot of money. Do you want me to spend less to get rid of Donald Trump? I don't think so? Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg this week defending his strategy of pouring millions into television ads for the 2020 race. Tom Steyer has followed a similar stage to gain a foothold in the democratic primaries, but can a television ad campaign turn into a winning campaign at the ballot box in 2020? We asked 538's Nate silver. Do you buy that? This is all a little bit of a science experiment. No one has spent this much this fast in a presidential campaign before, and the numbers we're talking about are truly gargantuan. Michael Bloomberg has spent more than $76 million on TV S, all in four weeks, and that's more than the rest of the Democrats combined all cycle long. Tom Steyer has spent $57 million on TV mostly in the early states, by comparison, Bernie Sanders has raised more than any other Democrat from small donors, and he has spent $4.6 million on TV. Can money buy you votes? Steyer is polling between 3% and 6% in the early states. That's better than his 1% or 2% nationally, but it doesn't put him on track to win any delegates let alone any states. Bloomberg who is advertising all over the country, is at 4.8% national coverage average. That's good for fifth place, but his return on investment isn't great. He has only picked up two measly points since joining the campaign. The key concept here is what economists call diminishing returns. The first time you see a Steyer or a Bloomberg ad, it might move the needle, but the 15th ad it probably wouldn't. You have hit the point of oversaturation. Paid media doesn't stick like things that come more organically like during a debate. Steyer has lower mark than any of the candidates after Thursday night's debate. No amount of ads will peel them away from their favorite candidate whether it's Bernie or Joe Biden or someone else. Polls show that Bloomberg gets most support from people who are not paying very much attention to the campaign. Look. Obviously money can have a lot of influence in politics, but I don't buy that you can win a presidential nomination on the basis of advertising alone.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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