Local Media Watch

<< Return to Blog

Primary Season Has Begun! Here’s What to Expect… 

by | Aug 24, 2023 | BIA, Blog, Local Advertising Forecast, Political Advertising

With the first Republican Primary debate finished, “Primary Season” for the 2024 Presidential Election is officially upon us.  This makes it the perfect time to dive in and compare what happened in 2020 to what we are expecting in 2024 with a focus on the Primaries. 

First of all, while it is possible that Joe Biden will have some competition, most political pundits are currently forecasting that he will be the Democratic Presidential nominee without much (if any) serious competition.  This could change quickly and, if it does, we will adjust our forecasts as needed but, for now, BIA is not forecasting any significant Democratic Primary spending.   

Therefore, let’s focus on the Republican Primary which is heating up and already generating spending.  Before we dive into any numbers, it’s interesting to examine the calendar.  In 2020, there were four Republican Primaries (or caucuses in some states) scheduled to happen before Super Tuesday – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.  (Nevada and South Carolina wound up canceling their Primaries/caucuses as Donald Trump had essentially locked in his place on the Republican ticket by then).  But, this cycle, we have some changes as other states wanted to get in on the action and attract attention ahead of Super Tuesday.  So, for 2024, we add Michigan, Idaho and North Dakota to the list of states that will have their Primary or caucus before Super Tuesday (scheduled for March 5, 2024). 

How are these changes expected to affect Political spending? 

Let’s look at it state by state: 

  • Iowa: Always the first Primary state and always fun to see all the candidates at the state fair!  That being said, with the Republican Primary season more spread out this year, we are forecasting Iowa to lose money to other states.  In 2020, Cedar Rapids had $131 million in political spending and we are forecasting just $36 million to be spent in the upcoming cycle.  Similar stories for Davenport, Des Moines and Sioux City.   
  • Nevada: Moving up from the third Primary to the second Primary will help generate more spending in Nevada but, being such a toss-up state, Nevada is poised to win big this election cycle.  Las Vegas and Reno will both be up over 200% compared to 2020, which translates to over $300 million being spent in Vegas alone! 
  • South Carolina: We are projecting less spending in South Carolina this cycle than we saw in 2020.  Charleston will be down nearly 60% from almost $30 million in 2020 to about $12 million in 2024.   
  • Michigan: While moving ahead of Super Tuesday may draw some dollars to Michigan, it isn’t likely to move the needle much.  We are expecting similar spending in Michigan this cycle to what we saw in 2020.   
  • Idaho: It’s interesting that Idaho moved up their Primary.  This will help them, for sure.  Being such a “red” state, the Primary is really the only spending this state will get and now they will potentially be more important as the Primary happens earlier.  Spending in Boise is projected to go up about $15 million compared to 2020.   
  • North Dakota: Similar to Idaho, North Dakota will likely get a small bump in spending due to moving their Primary.  We are projecting Fargo to bring in about $1 million more this cycle for a total of nearly $14 million.   

So, in terms of Primary Season, it looks like Nevada is set up to gain the most from the changes in the Republican calendar and the look of this political cycle in general.  As we continue to move through Primary Season and the Republican and Democratic candidates get settled, focus will turn to the General Election and so too will our analysis!   

In the meantime, you can get more from BIA’s political forecast in the recently published Local Market Political Ad Spend Report 2023-2024, which details political local ad spend in all 210 TV markets for key media in 2023 and 2024. The report is now available for purchase in our shop here. BIA ADVantage clients can login and download the report from the Reports & Webinars section.