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Can Democrats Close the Digital Spending Gap?

Can Democrats Close the Digital Spending Gap?

Heading into 2016, Democrats were known for their online campaign wizardry, and Andrew Bleeker was a critical cog in the machine — he helped run digital marketing for both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, and then Hillary Clinton’s. As he dived into a postmortem after a shocking November, Bleeker took umbrage at the victory lap Donald Trump consultants took for the campaign’s online work. Bleeker contends that Trump’s digital game was more about “selling hats” than changing minds, but a peek down-ballot shows “the much more, sort of, frightening part as a Democrat.”

An analysis by Bleeker’s firm, Bully Pulpit Interactive, revealed some striking numbers: Across gubernatorial, Senate and House races, Republicans often devoted a far bigger proportion of their turnout and persuasion budgets to the web than Democrats did. A deeper look at 17 closely contested U.S. House races found that party committees and allied super PACs spent roughly the same total amount on advertising, but 28 percent of the Republican budget went to digital compared to just 4 percent for Democrats.

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