This article is a "first look"at political advertising in 2020. Spending on political advertising in the United States in 2020 obliterated records, and Democrats held huge advantages in the presidential race and in most congressional and senatorial races. In addition, all indicators suggest that spending on digital advertising continued to rise. Political advertising was largely similar in tone to past years and, in the presidential race, was substantially more positive than 2016. In addition, interest groups remained heavily involved in federal races in 2020, airing more ads than ever before, though their spending as a percentage of total ad spending was slightly less than in 2016. Political ad spending in 2020 may have been historically high because of the impact of COVID-19 on how campaigns could reach voters, suggesting that paid advertising may decline in 2022 and 2024, at least as a percentage of total election spending.
Ridout, Travis N.; Fowler, Erika Franklin; and Franz, Michael M., "Spending Fast and Furious: Political Advertising in 2020" (2021). Government Faculty Publications. 5.