Presidential Candidates Escalate Promo Spending

Campaign finance reports show that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have accelerated their spending on promotional products after each of their party’s political conventions. In the latest data available for August, Trump spent $2.1 million while Clinton spent $540,000 on promotional products – the highest that either candidate has spent in any month this election.

Clinton’s spending on “collateral” is a significant step up from previous months; in fact, the Democratic candidate spent more in August than the last five months combined. Trump also spent $1.8 million in July, roughly double what he had spent in previous months after he had emerged as the favorite for the Republican nomination.

Trump continues to rely heavily on promotional products as an integral element of his campaign. Through the end of August, the businessman has spent $11.5 million total on campaign merchandise – equating to 9.65% of the money he has spent this election. Trump has already set the record for promotional product spending by a presidential candidate, set in 2012 by Barack Obama’s campaign at $6.7 million. Even though he’s dropped out of the race, Democrat Bernie Sanders has also bested the president, spending $9.3 million total on promotional products (4% of his total spending).

Clinton’s campaign may have escalated its merchandise spending in August, but it still trails greatly behind Trump’s. In total, Clinton has spent $2.4 million on promotional products – a mere 0.75% of the $318 million her campaign has spent this election.

Throughout this presidential election, Trump has relied on promotional products, media coverage and social media awareness to maintain exposure. By contrast, Clinton has spent mightily on TV and radio ads to gain the attention of voters. Clinton and her PACs and advocacy groups will spend $145.3 million on such ads between September 16 and Election Day, accounting for 97% of all presidential TV and radio ad spending. Trump and his supporters will spend $4.4 million during that time period.

Trump, who courted very little outside money earlier in the election, has taken a page from Sanders’ playbook and greatly increased the number of small donations he is receiving. Data from the Associated Press reveals that half of Trump’s fundraising comes from people giving $200 or less. By contrast, 19% of Clinton’s campaign relies on such donations. Trump’s digital and direct-mail efforts helped raise $64 million in July, easily his best fundraising month and narrowing the fundraising gap between he and Clinton.

In the latest ASI Presidential Promo Poll, Clinton has seized a 54%-46% lead over Trump. The candidates have traded the lead back and forth in recent weeks in the poll, which surveys the sentiments of U.S. consumers.