In a staggering display of political financial muscle, outside spending on the 2024 federal races has blown past previous election cycles, with a colossal $318 million already funneled into presidential and congressional races. This figure revealed in an OpenSecrets analysis of campaign finance reports, marks a seismic shift in the financial landscape of U.S. elections.
The current spending, which eclipses the $162 million record set in the 2016 election cycle, is a clear indicator of the high stakes in the 2024 race. With the White House, Congress, and multiple state legislatures up for grabs, outside groups have opened their coffers wide. AdImpact projects a mind-boggling $10.2 billion will be spent on political advertising across the board this election cycle.
The Republican presidential primary is the epicenter of this spending spree, attracting over $297 million. Former President Donald Trump leads the pack, dominating the Iowa caucus with a record 51% of the vote. Trump’s lead in national polls is monumental, overshadowing his nearest rivals, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who are both polling around 12%.
The pro-Haley SFA Fund, fueled by conservative heavyweights like billionaire investor Stanley Druckenmiller and Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone, has emerged as the top spender. This super PAC, along with Americans for Prosperity Action—another powerful entity led by billionaire Charles Koch—has thrown its weight behind Haley, spending a combined total of over $114.9 million.
Trump, not to be outdone, has the backing of Make America Great Again Inc., a super PAC aligned with his campaign. This group has already spent $47.9 million, showcasing the formidable financial backing Trump commands.
Interestingly, Trump’s rivals and their allies have refrained from direct attacks against him. Groups like Americans for Prosperity Action and Win it Back PAC have spent approximately $22.2 million in opposition to Trump, signaling a cautious approach in taking on the former president.
DeSantis, on the other hand, finds himself in the crosshairs of negative spending. The pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down, with $37.8 million in expenditures, faces an onslaught from SFA Fund and MAGA Inc., who have collectively spent over $47.2 million against the Florida governor.
President Biden also finds himself targeted, with outside groups spending around $20 million against him, though this pales in comparison to the financial firepower directed at his Republican counterparts.
The astronomical spending by these outside groups is reshaping the political battlefield, with unprecedented sums being poured into influencing the outcomes of key races. This financial arms race, underscored by the record-breaking expenditures, is a testament to the intensity and high stakes of the 2024 election cycle. As the political landscape continues to heat up, one thing is clear: the role of money in U.S. politics has reached new, uncharted territories.