It has been 70 years since future President Dwight D. Eisenhower unveiled his “Eisenhower Answers America” campaign, a series of 30-second clips that historians commonly describe as television’s foray into political advertising.
Since 1952, television has done away with bunny ears and its screens have become flatter, but the medium’s use continues in modern politics. With many cutting the cord, some state and congressional candidates are targeting voters through online advertising with Election Day less than 50 days away.
With nearly 3 billion users worldwide, several Illinois candidates are turning to Facebook to spread the word.
48th Senate District of Illinois
Two Springfield-based candidates not only share a difference in political ideology, but also in their use of Facebook for campaign advertising.
According to the Meta Ads Library, State Senator Doris Turner, D-Springfield, has six active ads sponsored by Friends of Doris Turner, with an estimated $14,200 invested in the campaign. The ads, which went live on Aug. 25, have amassed around 860,000 impressions through Monday, which is the number of times the ad appears on a person’s screen.
On an ad-by-ad basis, the Ads Library also shows the demographics of who sees the ads and where they were shown. Such ads, estimated to spend between $3,500 and $4,000, were seen by 24% of viewers aged 25 to 34 and 22% aged 65 or older.
Turner’s opponent and current MP Sandy Hamilton, R-Springfield, has a Facebook presence at her official Sandy 4 Senate page. The site recently posted a campaign video, but no money was invested in making it a sponsored post.
If the Hamilton campaign decides to invest funds in its social media strategy, it could draw on recent contributions from the Senate Republican Victory Fund. According to campaign finance records, SandyForSenate received two sums totaling $133,130 from SRVF earlier this month.
The campaign, which ended last quarter with $56,727 in available funds, has received $307,444 from SRVF to date as of June 30. Hamilton and Madison County board member Erica Harriss, who is running for the 56th Senate district, has received the most donations from the fund.
Despite Hamilton’s leadership among Republican Senate hopefuls, the Illinois Senate Democrat Fund’s contributions to the Friends of Doris Turner nomination committee have surpassed the challenger in the post-elementary school era.
This month alone, Turner has received $495,976 from ISDF, coming after the campaign secured $325,750 in a single donation last month.
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13th congressional district
Republican candidate Regan Deering and Democratic candidate Nikki Budzinksi have used Facebook ads in their respective campaigns for Illinois’ 13th congressional district.
The Regan4Congress campaign had five ads last month sharing details of upcoming events and photos from previous gatherings. In total, the campaign is estimated to have spent no more than $800, which secured approximately 153,000 impressions.
Alternatively, Budzinski’s campaign has invested heavily in his Facebook presence — estimated at between $30,000 and $37,000 for three ads this month. This strategy has given the Democrat more impressions than voters in the newly formed congressional district.
The 13th stretches from the Metro East region over a narrow strip through Springfield and Decatur to Champaign and is home to approximately 705,000 people. Nikki Budzinski’s sponsored contributions to the convention have garnered as many as 2.3 million impressions.
Budzinski came out of the June primary with more money than Deering, though he outnumbered the Republican by more than 2-1/2 times, according to federal Elections Committee data. Among their contributions this year, Governor JB Pritzker and First Lady MK Pritzker sent Budzinski $11,600 this year.
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In order to reach a larger nationwide audience, gubernatorial candidates Governor JB Pritzker and Republican Senator Darren Bailey were particularly active on Facebook throughout the campaign.
Bailey for Illinois has sponsored approximately 500 positions since March 2021 — a month after Xenia’s lawmakers announced his candidacy. While running ads in July and August, the campaign increased its presence in June leading up to the primary with 10 sponsored posts.
This month alone, the campaign is estimated to have spent between $105,500 and $114,600, resulting in approximately 4.7 to 5.5 million impressions. With 57% of the GOP vote, Bailey still had fewer ads than second-place venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan, who had 26 sponsored posts as of June.
Before the primary, Pritzker invested $24 million in the Democratic Governors Association, which in turn used those funds to label Bailey “too extreme” for Illinois. In recent months, much of the JB for Governor campaign Facebook strategy uses similar language on the Dangerous Darren Bailey page.
JB for Governor has paid more than 20 jobs so far in September, several of which were ads in Spanish. As a result of spending up to $109,600 this month, the ads received approximately 7.1 million impressions.
The campaign has a paid post this month on Pritzker’s personal Facebook page, where an estimated $4,500 to $5,000 was spent on an ad that got 150,000 to 175,000 impressions.
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While the Illinois Attorney General’s race hails from the same audience as the governor’s race, the Illinois Attorney General’s race hasn’t seen nearly the amount of Facebook ad investment.
Attorney General Kwame Raoul has not sponsored ads since his 2018 campaign, while his Republican challenger Thomas Devore has been slightly more active.
Citizens for Devore has sponsored five posts since the primary, estimated to spend no more than $600 and amassed 45,000 to 57,000 impressions.
Illinois’ Raoul could pull from the 50 most recent posts coming mostly for unions if the campaign decides to reassert its Facebook ads. According to an Aug. 26 disclosure, Devore contributed $250,001 of his own money to his campaign.
Contact Patrick Keck: 312-549-9340, [email protected], twitter.com/@pkeckreporter