New Hampshire ad spending tops $77 million as Haley and Trump fight to the finish

CNN/ Newswire | 1/23/2024, 9:15 a.m.
Donald Trump, Nikki Haley and their allies have traded sharp attacks on New Hampshire airwaves ahead of the second nominating …
Donald Trump, Nikki Haley and their allies have traded sharp attacks on New Hampshire airwaves ahead of the second nominating contest in the Republican presidential primary. Mandatory Credit: Getty Images/AP

Originally Published: 23 JAN 24 10:00 ET

By David Wright and Alex Leeds Matthews, CNN

(CNN) — Donald Trump, Nikki Haley and their allies have traded sharp attacks on New Hampshire airwaves ahead of the second nominating contest in the Republican presidential primary.

Haley and groups supporting her White House bid have invested heavily in the Granite State, spending roughly twice as much on advertising there as Trump’s political network since the start of the 2024 race. But Haley’s advantage narrowed in the new year as Trump and his allies ramped up ad spending there to counter signs of momentum for the former South Carolina governor.

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GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley visits a polling location with New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu Source: CNN

Combined, Republican campaigns and outside groups have spent more than $77 million on advertising in New Hampshire through Monday, significantly more than the roughly $50 million that campaigns and outside groups spent on advertising in the Granite State during the 2020 battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to data from the ad tracking firm AdImpact.

Trump and his political network spent more than $10 million on TV ads looking to blunt the high-profile challenge posed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, hitting him in Iowa, New Hampshire and on national cable during the summer and fall of last year. The former president cruised to a dominant win in the Iowa caucuses last week while DeSantis and Haley finished a distant second and third respectively. DeSantis ended his presidential campaign on Sunday and endorsed Trump.

But with signs of a more competitive race in New Hampshire, Trump and his allies turned their attention to Haley and have spent more than $6 million attacking her on the Granite State airwaves.

Meanwhile, after months avoiding mention of Trump in most of their paid messaging, Haley and her allies have responded with attacks of their own, airing more than $4 million worth of ads targeting the former president.

Anti-Haley ads warn that she is soft on illegal immigration and wants to cut Social Security, while ads touting the former South Carolina governor call for generational change and laud Haley as the only candidate who can beat Trump.

According to AdImpact data, Haley’s campaign and supportive outside groups have spent more than $31 million on advertising in New Hampshire since the start of 2023. By comparison, Trump’s campaign and its allies have spent about $15.7 million on New Hampshire advertising since the start of the race, while a pro-DeSantis super PAC spent about $8 million in the state last year.

So far in 2024, Haley’s campaign and its allies have spent about $12.3 million advertising in New Hampshire compared with about $9.8 million for Trump and his allies. In stark contrast, DeSantis and his allies spent nothing on the New Hampshire airwaves this year.

The ads

In the closing days of the race in New Hampshire, SFA Fund, the super PAC supporting Haley, has been airing a new ad featuring popular Gov. Chris Sununu, who has endorsed and vigorously campaigned for Haley.

In the ad, Sununu tells voters, “There are now only two candidates who can win. One is surrounded by chaos and drama. That’s the Donald Trump we all know. The other is honest and hopeful. That’s Nikki Haley. She campaigned the New Hampshire way, and now we have a chance to reset the election for our entire country.”

The ad’s explicit criticism of the former president reflects a notable shift in the messaging from pro-Haley advertisers, who spent much of the last year avoiding any mention of Trump.

Earlier this month, SFA Fund began airing another ad hitting the former president, telling voters that “Trump can’t stop lying about Nikki Haley. One temper tantrum after another. His entire campaign based on revenge.”

The super PAC has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on an ad responding to some of the attacks leveled by Trump and his allies. The spot featured voters at a Haley town hall touting her toughness and pointedly mentioning her commitment to protecting Social Security.

And in the final week before votes are counted in New Hampshire, the Haley campaign launched its first ad targeting Trump by name. The commercial opens with a blunt message: “The two most disliked politicians in America? Trump and Biden. Both are consumed by chaos, negativity and grievances of the past.” The narrator continues, “The better choice for a better America: Nikki Haley.”

Another pro-Haley super PAC, Independents Moving the Needle, has aired ads in New Hampshire that feature voters who say they previously supported Trump but are now backing Haley.

Countering those efforts, Trump and his allies have spent millions attacking Haley on air in New Hampshire since she supplanted DeSantis as the top perceived threat to the former president’s campaign there.

The Trump campaign has spent more than $800,000 in New Hampshire on an ad claiming that Haley, who has campaigned on raising the retirement age for Americans currently in their 20s, would cut Social Security benefits. MAGA Inc., the super PAC supporting Trump, has spent more than $2.5 million airing an ad in New Hampshire that portrays Haley as soft on border security.

The Trump campaign has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on another ad focused on illegal immigration, knocking Haley for opposing a ban on Muslims entering the United States that Trump proposed as a candidate in 2015 and telling voters that “Haley’s weakness puts us in grave danger.”

Additionally, MAGA Inc. has put more than $2.7 million behind an ad that attacks Haley for her stance on the gas tax when she was governor of South Carolina. “New Hampshire can’t afford Nicky high-tax Haley,” the ad’s narrator says.

Looking ahead

Looking beyond New Hampshire, Trump, Haley and the super PACs supporting them are mostly holding their fire, waiting on the outcome of the Granite State contest.

As a result, the next two states hosting GOP nominating contests, Nevada and South Carolina, have seen far less ad spending than New Hampshire and Iowa, where GOP campaigns and groups spent over $123 million.

In Nevada, none of the campaigns or outside groups are on the air. Haley’s campaign is not competing in the state’s party-run caucuses on February 8, opting instead for the state-run primary on February 6. But only the caucuses will be used to determine the allocation of delegates to this summer’s Republican convention.

And in South Carolina, the next major contest on February 24, just one group is actively spending: Americans for Prosperity Action, the super PAC arm of the Koch family’s political network, which is backing Haley.

AFP Action has spent more than $3 million on advertising in South Carolina and went up earlier this month with an ad touting Haley’s electability and showcasing her performance in hypothetical general election polls against President Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, Haley’s team said over the weekend that it plans to spend up to $4 million on a new ad campaign in South Carolina, signaling her intent to press on with her one-on-one matchup against Trump.

Democratic primary

On the Democratic side, Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips and supporters of his long-shot presidential primary challenge to Biden have poured nearly $5 million into advertising in New Hampshire, where the president is not on the ballot.

According to AdImpact data, Phillips’ campaign and a super PAC supporting him, We Deserve Better, have spent $2.7 million and $2.2 million respectively delivering sharp criticism of Biden and slamming the national Democratic Party’s treatment of the state’s primary.

Biden did not register for the New Hampshire ballot following an internal party dispute over the date of the primary. The Democratic National Committee has said that no delegates will be awarded based on the New Hampshire primary as the contest is noncompliant with the DNC’s revamped nominating calendar. Accordingly, Biden and the outside groups supporting his reelection have not advertised in the state, though supporters have undertaken a low-key write-in effort on the president’s behalf.

Away from New Hampshire, Biden’s campaign and allied outside groups have been spending millions on early reelection advertising since last year.

According to AdImpact data, the Biden campaign, a supportive super PAC, his joint fundraising committee and a joint effort with the DNC have combined to spend about $50 million on ads so far. The network has committed millions to several key battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, and North Carolina.