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How much money is spent on advertising during presidential campaigns?

We are used to seeing political ads before any presidential election. However, what are the numbers behind the campaigns? .

Business women watching a computer screen in an office

We tell you how the investment in advertising works when it comes to a presidential campaign. / Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

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Leer en español: ¿Cuánto dinero se gasta en publicidad durante campañas presidenciales?

Advertising is part of our routine. Especially in this context of coronavirus, where companies have to make themselves known through the Internet, we note that it is one of the parts that sustains the economic system of the world. So much so that, according to the American Retail website, digital advertising will account for "more than half of advertiser spending in 2020".

However , there is one area that seems under-explored in terms of knowledge: pre-election advertising. Recently, the El Comercio Peru website highlighted that the campaign of Joe Biden, the current Democratic candidate for the United States, will spend 280 million dollars on advertising, a figure higher than the 147 million dollars of his adversary, Donald Trump.

Against this background, we decided to investigate how presidential campaigns work in terms of advertising and money , in addition to reviewing some emblematic cases of Internet and television advertisements that, in a certain way, determine the possible results at the polls.

Money in election advertisements

Propaganda is essential for election campaigns. For example, we can take the case mentioned by Fal Magazine, where, in the United States, Donald Trump had presented himself as the Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States. Despite skepticism, he achieved victory, after generating eye-catching speeches through the media.

Although we already have it completely internalized, many of us do not know how the money system works for the advertising of political parties. Sometimes, we do not even know how much each one has, which, in many cases, determines who will have a greater presence in the media and, consequently, which ideas will reach more people.

An example of this is Uruguay. The newspaper El Observador of that country commented that, for the last presidential elections in which Lacalle Pou was elected, the Electoral Court determined the finances of the political parties. These are divided between income and expenses.

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For example , the presidential formula that ended up being elected (that of Lacalle Pou and Beatriz Argimón) had spent about 2 million dollars on the campaign, having revenues close to 2.3 million dollars. More than half of the financing was public, that is, between what was left over from the internal elections themselves and what was collected by the State through the money granted for the votes received.

In Argentina's presidential voting in 2019, something similar also happened. The El Popular media reported that the different political spaces had distributed more than 62,000 hours for electoral advertising. Regarding the country's Financing Law, it is mentioned that 50% of hours were allocated equally to political groups, while the remaining 50% is determined by the votes obtained in the last election of national deputies.

As for the economy, the Télam news agency reported that the parties spent "almost 800 million Argentine pesos for the PASO campaign," a fact that emerged from the report by the Poder Ciudadano foundation. Each alliance has public financing and private donations, therefore, according to their economic power, the type of propaganda that will be produced will be determined.

Knowing the importance of social networks and the media when it comes to influencing the ballot box, it is clear that there will be many people who do not want to feel "bombarded" by political proposals. This is why the CNN website mentions that Facebook and Instagram will allow US users to "block political ads."

Therefore, it is clear that all the applicants of the governments of the world must invest money so that people know their ideas, but that also, depending on the purchasing power of each of the parties that will finance them, they will reach a greater or lesser degree of influence. 

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