The Tale of the Tape

Tomorrow is Election Day, and the nation will finally determine an unprecedented presidential contest that began about 20 months ago and spent well over a billion dollars. With a budget and level of planning akin to the D-Day invasion of Normandy, each campaign has advanced and retreated. The Trump and Clinton campaigns have clashed through covert operations and open war. Now, both sides are marching on North Carolina, where the outcome of this long, expensive struggle will likely be decided.

By any metric, the Clinton campaign has won the fundraising contest, spending more than $325 million so far. The Trump campaign by comparison has spent about $200 million across the entire election season. But as any astute election follower knows, campaign expenditures only account for part of the total amount spent to promote one candidate or attack another. PACs and super PACs have deep pockets and far fewer spending regulations than the actual campaigns.

But even in the soft-money world of PACs and super PACs, Clinton has a firm lead over the Trump campaign. One Clinton super PAC alone – Priorities USA Action – has spent more than $160 million this cycle. Other Clinton political committees have chipped in at least another $35 million. Trump super PACS – spearheaded by the Great America PAC – have produced a combined sum of about $35 million. If the election were decided on fundraising alone, the Clinton campaign would walk away with a landslide victory.

Time will tell if Clinton’s vast outspending of Trump will pay dividends in favorable votes cast. Today, the candidates are emptying their war chests in North Carolina on media buys, with both camps intensely working to add the state to their electoral math. Trump’s path to victory is a little more complicated, but despite the vast spending differences, this election, at least as far as the media is concerned, is shaping up to be historically close.

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