With the 2019 elections behind us, all eyes are on the democratic primaries. Recent polling trends have put the national spotlight heavily on Pete Buttigieg. As Buttigieg has climbed to the top of polls, we thought we would look at how his campaign spending has trended during his rise to from little known Mayor to Presidential heavyweight. Buttigieg has built a robust campaign around small donor support and used digital advertising very effectively to reach his target audience. This digital campaign has turned into a successful fundraising and list building machine and has resulted in a strong and loyal base for the candidate. When he launched, Buttigieg was a modest candidate, barely cresting $3,000 in digital spending for the month of February. While his spending trended upwards, it never surpassed $100,000 until he officially declared on April 14. As the graph below shows, his digital spending has only continued to grow along with his national profile. Buttigieg is now spending like a presidential front runner.

Buttigieg Line Graph

When compared to other top democrats in the race, Buttigieg was a little slow to gain popularity, an unsurprising occurrence considering he had neither the name recognition nor the personal wealth to catapult him immediately into the national discussion. Where Buttigieg succeeded, and many others failed, was in using micro targeted digital messaging to build a strong base of support. This large grassroots effort, helped by his strong debate performances, was leveraged to build his profile and financial base. With a strengthened base he began to push his way up the digital spending charts and national polls. In recent months he has eclipsed the digital spending of all presidential candidates, except Tom Steyer, and has found himself atop recent polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire. The graph below shows a running total of digital spending for the top 5 Democrats to show how Buttigieg’s spending compares to other top Democrats.

Top Dem Spenders

It remains to be seen if Buttigieg’s current popularity can carry him to the nomination. His debate performances continue to be strong, but he faces serious questions about his ability to build a broad coalition of voters across more diverse states than Iowa. However, the benefits of having a lot of money and a sophisticated digital strategy cannot be understated. Pete Buttigeig has positioned himself as one to watch, and we’ll keep an eye on what his spending does in correspondence with his polling numbers and popularity.