DeSantis, Haley Make TV Spending Blitz in Iowa

GOP contenders Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley spent more than $6.7 million on television ads appearing between November and mid-January in Iowa metros.
DeSantis, Haley Make TV Spending Blitz in Iowa
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to guests at a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa on Nov. 6, 2023. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Austin Alonzo

While Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is in a distant second for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination behind President Donald Trump, he’s taking the lead in television advertisement spending ahead of the 2024 Iowa Caucus.

According to an Epoch Times analysis of Federal Communications Commission disclosures released by broadcasters in the Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, and Sioux City, Iowa, metro areas as well as Omaha, Nebraska, more than $10 million has been spent on TV ads that have appeared or will appear between November and Jan. 15, 2024, on the affiliates of the four major networks: ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. Omaha was included in the analysis because of its proximity to Council Bluffs, Iowa.

While the internet continues to change the way Americans communicate, candidates and their affiliated political action committees are still spending millions to get their message in front of voters watching news, primetime and daytime entertainment, and major sporting events on TV.

As of Nov. 20, $10.2 million has been spent on TV ads in the five designated market areas where most of the Hawkeye State’s voters live.

Mr. DeSantis leads the way, with $3.8 million spent, followed by former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, $2.9 million; President Donald Trump, $2.7 million; and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, with about $620,000.

While former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum are both still running for president, neither are spending a significant amount of money in Iowa. According to FCC records, Mr. Christie has yet to spend any money on TV in the state. Mr. Burgum has curtailed his spending since the summer and did not spend a significant amount on TV advertising in Iowa in the observed period.

The latest poll predicting the results of the GOP’s Iowa Caucus, conducted by Civiqs and Iowa State University reflecting polling conducted between Nov. 10-15, placed President Trump in a clear lead with 47 percent of likely caucus attendees support. Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Haley are tangling for second, with 17.3 and 14.3 percent support respectively. Mr. Ramaswamy, 5 percent; Mr. Christie, 4 percent; and Mr. Burgum, 2.7 percent, all trail.

Vivek Ramaswamy

When it comes to TV spots, Mr. Ramaswamy is living week to week. He is spending in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, and Sioux City, but so far he’s only paid to appear in voter’s living rooms through Nov. 26. Mr. Ramaswamy is not spending in Omaha. This could reflect the state of the candidate’s finances.
According to Federal Election Commission data, Mr. Ramaswamy’s campaign—as Vivek 2024—raised a total of $26.6 million as of Sept. 30. However, the campaign had spent $22.4 million ahead of the FEC’s latest reporting deadline. That left him with about $4.2 million on hand more than a year ahead of the general election.

Donald Trump

President Trump likely doesn’t need any help getting on TV these days. Despite this, his campaign isn’t leaving anything to chance, even with a sizable lead over the field.

According to FCC records, President Trump isn’t spending directly. Instead, his PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., is buying air time in every metro but Omaha. According to the PAC’s latest filing with the FEC, the PAC had raised $14.6 million as of June 30, when its mid-year report was published.

In Iowa, his campaign could actually be considered the biggest spender. However, it’s only purchased ads through the end of November. The Haley and DeSantis campaigns are beginning to book air time through the caucus day.

President Trump’s main committee, Donald J. Trump for President 2024 Inc., had raised more than $60.5 million as of Sept. 30, with $37.5 million on hand.

Nikki Haley

Ms. Haley and her PAC, SFA Fund Inc., made an advertising blitz in Iowa in November that will get her message in front of voters in Iowa and Nebraska for good measure. While Mr. Ramaswamy and President Trump are currently skipping the Omaha metro—the area is predominantly populated by Nebraskans—Ms. Haley and SFA are spending big, with more than $440,000 on TV ads in the metro alone.

As of Nov. 20, Ms. Haley’s campaign booked advertisements through caucus day. Ms. Haley is currently looking to unseat Mr. DeSantis as the chief Trump alternative and is courting donors and voters alike. SFA had raised $14.6 million through June 30, according to its mid-year filing with the FEC.

Republican presidential candidate and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley listens to the National Anthem at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 12, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Republican presidential candidate and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley listens to the National Anthem at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 12, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
The Haley campaign’s main committee—Nikki Haley for President Inc.—raised the least among the major candidates in Iowa, $18.7 million, as of its Sept. 30 FEC filing. Nevertheless, the campaign was frugal and listed $11.6 million in cash on hand.

Ron DeSantis

The leading Trump alternative is betting big on Des Moines. Like Ms. Haley, as of Nov. 20, the DeSantis campaign and its PAC Never Back Down Inc., are already spending on advertisements through Jan. 15, 2024. However, Mr. DeSantis is outspending every rival in every TV market. This investment was capped off by $1.1 million in the state’s capital and most populated metro.

Never Back Down had money to burn the last time it filed a disclosure with the FEC. The mid-year report said the DeSantis PAC raised more than $130 million.

Mr. DeSantis’ other campaign funds—Ron DeSantis for President and Draft DeSantis 2024 Fund—had raised more than $31.6 million as of Sept. 30. Those funds held $12.3 million on hand.

Austin Alonzo covers U.S. political and national news for The Epoch Times. He has covered local, business and agricultural news in Kansas City, Missouri, since 2012. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri. You can reach Austin via email at [email protected]
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