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Presidential Candidates Spend Big On Promo

Donald Trump and other presidential candidates sustained their outward spending on promotional products, according to figures from the latest campaign finance reports. The frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination spent nearly $542,000 on hats, T-shirts, mugs and more this February, bringing his total promotional spending to over $3.3 million this election.

Trump isn’t the only candidate to spend big money on promotional products. Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has spent $7.5 million on “campaign paraphernalia,” including $625,000 last month. Hillary Clinton spent only $38,000 on merchandise in February and a total of $1.3 million this election.

Trump has not been the biggest promotional spender in this election, but he has spent the greatest percentage on promotional products -- a total of 10.8% through January compared to the 8.4% spent by Sanders and the 1.2% by Clinton. Also, the allocation of his spending has proved unique. In February, the business mogul spent a total of $9.5 million, including more on promotional products than on telemarketing, strategy consulting and event staging. (He also spent $3.5 million on TV and digital advertising.)  By contrast, Sanders spent $41 million in February on his campaign, with nearly $20 million on non-digital advertisements and over $1.1 million on polling and strategy consulting.

In addition, there is a great discrepancy in the money each candidate has raised. Clinton has led all candidates with $188 million raised. Sanders has raised a total of $96.3 million and Trump has only raised $27.3 million, with nearly $18 million coming from Trump directly. 

“I think [Trump] realizes he gets a lot more bang for the buck by the right targeted use of promotional products that are seen on TV at his rallies and worn by tens of thousands of people all over this country,” says Dave McNeer, owner of Maxim Advertising, a Newton, IA-based distributor that has produced knit hats and other promotional items for Trump during the election race.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has raised $104.2 million and spent a total $1.1 million on promotional products. Through January, he used 1.6% of his total spending on merchandise. Ohio Governor John Kasich has spent only $160,000 on promotional products, a mere .6% of his spending.