The graph below shows DNC and GOP programmatic spend on header tag for the two weeks leading up to Election Day 2016. Our findings show that Democrats spent 2.8 times more than the Republicans as the campaign came to a close, as Clinton faced renewed scrutiny for her handling of private emails while serving as the Secretary of State. This influx of spend may have represented an attempt to rally her supporters amid the media coverage and secure a more decisive win.
This preemptive spend was contrasted by a relatively steady approach from the GOP, which spent more modestly before levelling off on November 8, 2016. These findings indicate that the Trump campaign may have conceded to the results of last-minute presidential forecasting or, conversely, that they were confident that their supporters would show up to the polls in strong numbers without further intervention.
Days before the election, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed signs of weakness in the DNC’s bid for the White House. The report revealed that:
“Clinton no longer [held] a significant lead among those who [had] already voted nationwide. And among those who [had] not voted yet, Trump supporters [were] more likely to say they [were] following the contest ‘very closely,’ suggesting they may turn out at higher rates.”
These voting patterns and potential strategy shifts are consistent with the programmatic spend that we see in the final weeks of the election.
Though it was anticipated that both campaigns would increase spend in the lead up to Election Day, the DNC’s late surge in spending in the programmatic exchange is significant. It suggests that the announcement in late October that the FBI was renewing its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email servers had tightened the presidential race more than many pollsters had predicted. Additionally, it reflects an understanding that the campaign needed to drive higher turnout rates to compete with the engagement expected from ardent Trump supporters.