Report: Political Ad Spending to Hit $11.4B in 2016

Political advertising is expected to reach a record $11.4 billion in 2016, up 20% from the previous presidential election year, according to a new report from Borrell Associates.

Adding in 2015 spending, Borrell figures that political advertising in this election cycle will total $16.5 billion. While the bulk of the spending will continue to go to TV, Borrell expects 2016 to be the first election year in which spending on digital advertising tops $1 billion.

About half the total spending will back the national election, while the other half will be spent on behalf of candidates and issues in local races.

Cable TV will see $1.5 billion in spending during the 2015-16 election cycle, with $737.8 million coming from national contests and $729.2 going for local races. Broadcast TV is expected to garner $8.5 billion, with $5.5 billion coming from national races and $3.1 billion spent on state and local contests. Online and digital spending will total. $1.1 billion, with $664.8 million going for national races and $423.8 spent on local contests.

Borrell calculates that presidential candidates will spend about $120.8 million each. Candidates for the U.S. Senate will be spending $7.3 million each. Those looking to be congressmen will be spending $1.6 million on average. On the local level, candidates for governor will be spending $2.6 million to run for office while state legislators will be spending close to $1 million.

Spending will be concentrated in some key states. Large states including California and Texas will see ad spending of $1.2 billion and $896 million, respectively. States with races for U.S. Senate and other key posts will also see a spending boost, including Florida at $800 million, Virginia at $459 million and Colorado at $295 million.

Borrell's new report also looks beyond 2016, and says TV’s political gravy train may begin to slow down: “The boisterous political carousel that’s just cranking up now will come to an abrupt halt in November 2016, and the embryonic stage of the next political cycle will begin. It will not exactly mirror its predecessors.


Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.