(NewsNation) — Political ad spending for the 2024 election cycle is approaching $500 million halfway through the year, driven largely by outside groups supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or former President Donald Trump.
Despite being an off year, the 2024 election is still dominating the spending, making up 17% of total ad expenditure around the country, according to ad tracking firm AdImpact. The $477 million in political ads through July 1 is outpacing spending in previous nonelection years: $435 million in 2021 and $232 million in 2019.
At present, much of the spending is on the Republican side of the race where a crowded field is challenging Trump, who remains the front-runner. President Joe Biden does not face a serious challenge to his candidacy, according to The Hill’s Niall Stanage.
There are other factors driving up the spending, including inflation and Super PACs, which did not exist prior to the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision in 2010.
“Campaigns are becoming longer because people are declaring their candidacy earlier,” Stanage said. “A generation ago, Bill Clinton didn’t start running for the presidency until October.”
Spending by one party also drives up spending by the other, Stanage said, as both candidates want to have parity in how much advertising they are purchasing.
A total of $63 million has been spent on the 2024 presidential race, according to AdImpact, and much of that is coming from outside groups, known as Super PACs, supporting Trump or DeSantis.
The PAC supporting Trump has spent more than $15 million in ads targeting DeSantis, surpassing the entire amount the group spent supporting 2022 midterm candidates. The Make America Great Again, Inc. super PAC’s latest ad buy against DeSantis was for $134,000 in Iowa, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.
In total, the group has spent more than $23 million, with ads also attacking President Joe Biden and supporting Trump.
Never Back Down, the PAC supporting DeSantis, reported spending more than $7 million but that does not include all of its spending from before the official launch of his campaign in May. Figures from AdImpact point to Never Back Down having spent more than $15 million.
Between them, MAGA Inc and Never Back Down have dominated the spending on the presidential race so far, a Reuters analysis found. The groups are due to submit fuller disclosures next month.
Other significant political ad spending this year includes $40 million on the Wisconsin Supreme Court race and $32 million on the Chicago mayoral race, according to AdImpact.
Still more than a year away from the 2024 election, Republican candidates have been hitting the campaign trail, vying for support from evangelicals in Iowa and first-in-the-nation primary voters in New Hampshire.
Despite his legal troubles, Trump is the preferred choice among 52% of Republicans, according to polling averages from RealClearPolitics. DeSantis is running at about 21% support. Former Vice President Mike Pence is in a distant third at 6%.
Reuters contributed to this story.