If you thought the $7 billion spent during the 2016 election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was expensive, 2020 decided to provide a shock and awe campaign.
Total election spending for the 2020 contest was $14 billion, doubling the records that happened in 2016. That figure is up approximately $3 billion from the initial estimates.
A massive influx of donations came into both campaigns at the end of the political season because of closely watched Senate races, a GOP push to win back House seats, and the Supreme Court battle that would ensue to put Amy Coney Barrett on the bench before Election Day.
Joe Biden will make history at the end of this cycle, becoming the first candidate in U.S. history to raise $1 billion from donors. Trump’s $596 million, which would have been a massive haul in any other year, looked weak compared to the excitement that Democrats achieved.
This Result Was Unthinkable a Decade Ago
Before 2010, the idea of seeing a billionaire running for the highest office in the United States was almost unthinkable. During the 2020 election cycle, we saw Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg on the campaign trail.
Although Bloomberg ran into the Biden buzzsaw during the primary season, he vowed to keep his spending levels high to defeat Donald Trump.
Bloomberg personally contributed approximately $500 million to support Democrats up and down the ticket in multiple states.
Political donations weren’t coming from the elite and wealthy alone. Even with 2020 being a pandemic year, women were crushing donation records. Small checks getting written to candidates to eight-figure checks going to super PACs all made it a record spending year.
Another trend for Americans is to donate to candidates outside of their state to support their preferred party.
If this trend continues, the idea of spending $20 billion in the 2024 election cycle is not outside the realm of possibility. That figure is significant because it represents ten times the amount spent in 2000.