Predicting future spend of candidates and outside groups during the campaign season can be an incredibly difficult task. Often outside events or the actions of other candidates force a change in spending strategy. At MarketPredict we follow these trends closely as we use spend to quantify the effectiveness of advertising strategies and to predict the eventual outcome of the race. Which media channels campaigns choose to spend their money on is an important signal for predicting the trajectory of these races. We will evaluate the Clinton campaign in detail, and then look at how her media spend patterns compare with that of the Sanders campaign.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Clinton Campaign pursued very different media strategies between the primary and general elections.
The first thing to jump out is just how much more varied the media share is for all the media channels between the primary and general elections. The uptick in Satellite TV and cessation of radio also indicates a shift toward micro-targetable platforms, perhaps underlying a desire to save resources for the general election and focus on the few remaining swayable voters at the tail end of the primary elections. We see a similar trend for Sanders although he continued spending on micro-targetable platforms through the end of the primaries while Clinton ended her radio buys until well into the general campaign.
Noticing the Sanders campaign’s less consistent spend shares, we drilled down a bit here and compared to the Clinton Campaign:
In these charts we notice that Sanders’ curves tend to be a lot wider than those of Clinton. This indicates a larger variability in media mix between markets. The relatively flat line for Sanders’ broadcast proportion over time shows that this variation is not due to changes in strategy but rather to less consistent strategies between markets. This suggests that candidates with this combination that have this combination of highly variable strategies between markets but fairly consistent overall strategy tend to perform less consistently during the course of campaigns.
Media channel mix offers a useful tool for predicting the success (or lack thereof) of political campaigns. The variance of media mix offers insights into the advertising strategy of campaigns, and can offer hints as to which campaigns like their position and which ones are still struggling to connect with voters. It also appears that micro-targetable media channels are preferred by campaigns that are ahead. While our evaluation remains restricted to the 2016 DEM primary race, it remains a key insight as we head into the 2020 DEM primary contests.