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Shift to the right predicted to result in loss of presidential ad spending for Florida forecast

TALLAHASSEE – Although home to the two leading Republican presidential contenders, Florida is expected to see political ad spending plummet in the 2024 race for the White House, according to a report released by the tracking company AdImpact. 

The firm projected Tuesday that after leading the nation in media spending in the 2020 race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Florida will likely tumble to eighth place next year, behind battleground states Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, and Wisconsin. 

The reason: Florida has shed its toss-up reputation in recent years, turning decidedly Republican red. That takes away the motivation for either party to spend heavily here, AdImpact concludes. 

“Florida is projected to see $81 million in presidential general spending, significantly dropping from its $350 million total in 2020,” the analysis shows. “This decrease is largely due to the state’s political shift to the right over the past several years.” 

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By contrast, the seven states ahead of Florida are poised to soak up 76% of advertising dollars in the presidential contest, the company said. Biden won six of these states in 2020. 

On the Republican side, Trump, who lives in Palm Beach, is polling far ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis both nationally and in the early primary states. Even in Florida, the most recent polling shows Trump ahead of DeSantis by 20 points.

The Iowa caucus in January is the first nominating contest among candidates in the crowded Republican field. 

DeSantis, whose campaign has shed staff and is grappling with messaging and money problems, is desperately seeking a strong showing against Trump in the kick-off caucus. 

But the advertising drop in Florida reflects a state which appears to have finally lost its lingering reputation as the nation’s biggest presidential toss-up state.  

Trump carried Florida by more than 370,000 votes over Biden in 2020, a 3.3% margin. DeSantis won re-election two years later by 19% over Democrat Charlie Crist, further sealing the state’s image as a GOP bastion. 

Voter registration also has tipped toward the GOP over the past two years for the first time in modern Florida history. Republicans now outnumber registered Democrats by almost 600,000 voters and Democrats hold no elected statewide offices and face Republican supermajorities in both legislative chambers. 

Florida politics have changed significantly since the 2000 election when the state’s politically purple hue was set with the 537-vote margin by which Republican George W. Bush carried the state and won the White House. 

AdImpact forecasts that next year’s election will total $10.2 billion in overall, political ad spending nationwide, making it the most expensive election cycle in U.S. history, 13% higher than the 2019-2020 cycle. 

While Florida may see a drop in the volume of presidential advertising, the company says spending in the state’s U.S. Senate race may actually defy a nationwide trend for more modest spending in these contests. 

Florida U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, a Republican, is up for re-election and faces a likely primary challenge against Melbourne lawyer Keith Gross, while Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a former Miami member of Congress, also announced her candidacy last month. 

In Senate spending, “Florida and Texas look to be the states most likely to exceed their projected spending amounts,” AdImpact said.

“Both are highly populated, expensive states currently listed as ‘Likely R’ as rated by Cook Political Report, but a strong candidate or a shift in the national environment could drive an increase in political ad spending.” 

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