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Outside Spending on 2024 Election Tops $318 Million, Outpacing Past Elections

The spending spree kicks off what could be a record-breaking election year.

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump attends a watch party during the 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 15, 2024.

Outside spending on 2024 federal races is outpacing all previous election cycles, according to an OpenSecrets analysis of campaign finance reports.

Super PACs and other outside groups that can raise and spend unlimited sums of money on federal elections have already poured nearly $318 million into spending on presidential and congressional races as of Jan. 14 — more than six times as much as had been spent at this point in 2020.

Outside spending thus far has also eclipsed the prior record of $162 million spent over a similar period in the 2016 election cycle, when Republicans last held a competitive presidential primary. Campaign finance reports analyzed by OpenSecrets cover spending from Jan. 1 2023 through Jan. 14, 2024.

The spending spree kicks off what could be a record-breaking election year, with former President Donald Trump mounting an aggressive campaign to win back the White House and both parties battling for control of Congress and multiple state legislatures. AdImpact, an analytics firm, projects that spending on political advertising up-and-down the ballot this cycle will hit $10.2 billion.

Outside spending thus far has been concentrated largely on the Republican presidential primary, with super PACs and other outside groups spending more than $297 million on the election ahead of the nation’s first nominating contest in Iowa on Jan. 15.

Trump, who won the Iowa caucus with a record-setting 51% of the vote, remains the dominant frontrunner — leading his closest opponent by more than 51 points, on average, in national polls.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley are each polling around 12% but hope to build on momentum in primaries in New Hampshire next week and South Carolina in February.

The pro-Haley SFA Fund emerged as the single largest outside spender in recent weeks as it capitalized on the former diplomat’s rising poll numbers. The super PAC — bankrolled by conservative megadonors, including billionaire investor Stanley Druckenmiller and Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone — has spent $68.1 million on the race.

Also backing Haley is Americans for Prosperity Action, a super PAC at the center of a network of conservative donors and activists led by billionaire Charles Koch. AFP Action, which signaled its opposition to Trump in early 2023, endorsed Haley in November. It has spent about $46.8 million on the election.

Make America Great Again Inc., a super PAC aligned with Trump that is commonly known as MAGA Inc., also ranks among the top outside spenders, with $47.9 million spent on the election thus far.

Despite Trump’s commanding lead in the polls, his primary challengers and their allies have been reluctant to attack the former president. Outside groups including Americans for Prosperity Action and Win it Back PAC, a super PAC affiliated with the conservative Club for Growth, have spent about $22.2 million opposing Trump.

Coming in fourth is the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down, with about $37.8 million spent.

Instead, DeSantis has been the target of most negative outside spending, with SFA Fund and MAGA Inc. spending about $47.2 million opposing the Florida governor — more than six times the negative outside spending any past presidential candidate had attracted through this point in the cycle.

Biden is the fourth-most attacked candidate with outside groups spending about $20 million opposing the Democratic president.

Committees Researcher Andrew Mayersohn contributed to this report.

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