Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Support NHPR's local journalism and you could win a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland OR London, England!

Steyer Floods The Feeds, Warren Buys 'The Bachelor' In Final N.H. Ad Push

You can’t outscroll them.

Political ads are bombarding social media in New Hampshire right now, as presidential candidates try to squeeze in as much digital facetime as they can in the lead up to Tuesday’s primary.


Statistics from Facebook show that over the past week, candidates and issue groups have spent $293,814 on ads targeting voters here. 

Since last November, the total spend on Facebook political ads in the state is $2.1 million, with Tom Steyer accounting for nearly a third of that spending.

The billionaire has spent more than $617,000 on ads targeting New Hampshire voters,far outpacing any of his Democratic rivals. Steyer is also spending large amounts on advertising with Google, which owns YouTube.

(Story continues below graph.)

While Steyer is flooding the digital zone, other candidates are also spending on ad buys in the state. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang has spent more than $171,755 on Facebook ads in New Hampshire since November. 

Former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg has dropped $157,264 during that same window, while Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has spent $141,723. 

Google’s bid for political ad transparency doesn’t get as granular as Facebook’s. The search giant reports that candidates and issue groups have spent $2.8 million on ads targeting New Hampshire residents since May 2018, but its data isn’t currently sortable by individual candidates. 

Expect most of the candidates to ramp up ad buys on all social media platforms in the final days of the New Hampshire primary. 

TV Still Has A Hold On Candidate Ad Dollars

Facebook and Google are reaping a windfall this cycle in political ad spending, but old fashioned thirty-second television spots are still in high demand.

Though WMUR-TV, New Hampshire’s ABC affiliate and only state-wide TV station, says it hasn’t yet sold out ad space, every candidate in the race has purchased air time there. Invoices are still being generated and purchases may be adjusted last minute, but it’s clear some candidates are investing heavily on TV ads leading up to February 11th.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has ordered approximately $422,000 worth of ads to air between January 27th and Primary Day, along with some old-school highway billboards

From Gabbard's February 5, 2020 ad buy with WMUR.

While she hasn’t qualified to participate in Friday’s televised debate in New Hampshire, Gabbard will make two appearances during commercial breaks. Records show she's paid $20,000 to run ads during the broadcast. 

A political action committee backing former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who says it’s not too late for him to shake up the race, is running ads in heavy rotation on WMUR during the next week. In total, the Reason to Believe PAC, which is aligned with Patrick, has booked close to $350,000worth of ads airing in the final two weeks of the New Hampshire race. 

Some other big TV spenders include Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is investing more than $263,000 on ads during the final two weeks of the campaign, including $8,000 to run an ad during The Bachelor the night before the vote. 

From Warren's February 5, 2020 ad buy with WMUR.

Sanders is trying to make his final case to New Hampshire voters through $160,000 worth of ads on WMUR, including a $10,000 spot that will run during Sunday night’s Academy Awards broadcast.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has booked $111,000 worth of ad time during the final push, while former Vice President Joe Biden is spending around $103,000 on WMUR ads.

Even former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose name won’t appear on the New Hampshire primary ballot, is throwing $23,000 into ads in the Granite State this week. 

Four years ago, with competitive presidential primaries for both Democrats and Republicans, WMUR sold $28 million worth of political advertisements in the run-up to the vote. 

What Are They Saying? 

Klobuchar is out with a new TV ad this week touting what she calls her ability to bring decency and competency to the Oval Office. The ad also prominently features her haul of endorsements from New Hampshire papers, including the Union Leader, Keene Sentinel and Portsmouth Herald.

Though he isn’t spending big money on Facebook to target New Hampshire voters, Biden is using the platform to highlight an issue he thinks will resonate here: health care.

Among Steyer’s deluge of Facebook ads aimed at New Hampshire, climate change remains a consistent issue. He’s also running spots highlighting his support of criminal justice reform. 

Sanders is running some ads that Facebook’s data shows are aimed solely at female voters in the state, including a spot called “Fight For Someone You Don’t Know."

Buttigieg, who is the youngest candidate in the field, is leaning into his age on Facebook, targeting ads about the need for a new generation of ideas at 18-34 year olds in the state.

With just days to go before voters head to the polls, candidates will continue reaching into their campaign coffers to get their message to voters.

Then on February 12th, the candidates will depart for other states, taking their ads with them. 

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
Related Content

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.