Primary Spending Insights on Trump Endorsed Candidates


Written by Nadia Innab

Ahead of the 2022 primaries, Trump endorsed over 200 candidates across the Senate, House, state-level, and local races. Going into the election, his endorsements were presented as a test of his influence within the Republican Party. NPR kept a tally of Trump-endorsed candidates and their results. They found that the vast majority of his endorsements won their primaries.

Overall, Trump-endorsed candidates spent $109M through their campaigns across all media types for the 2022 primary elections through primary spending insights. Republican campaigns spent a total $507M during the primaries, meaning over 20% of the spending come from Trump-endorsed candidates.

Many of these candidates touted their Trump endorsement in their TV ads. We recorded $1.2M in spending on just four ads that included the phrase, “endorsed by President Donald Trump,” airing over 9,000 times. Additionally, we captured 43 distinct ads airing over 55,000 times including the phrase “Trump endorsed” seeing $10.7M in spending. We saw 17 distinct ads that included the phrase “endorsed by Trump” for a total of $4.2M.

Trump’s candidates spent on ads across 37 states. Texas saw the most endorsements and the most spending, where the former president endorsed 22 candidates, who spent a combined $22M. Florida saw the next highest number of endorsed candidates at 16, but those 16 candidates only totaled $3.89M in ad expenditure. Pennsylvania saw $14M from Trump endorsed candidate campaigns, even though he only endorsed four candidates in the state. In Pennsylvania, Dr. Oz made up for $13.6M of the overall $14M recorded.

Other top spenders included gubernatorial candidates Tim Michelsin Wisconsin, Greg Abbott in Texas, and Darren Bailey in Illinois. All but one of the top nine spending Trump endorsements won their respective primaries and advanced to the general election. Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster did not advance to the general. Trump endorsements did not spend at higher rates than other Republican candidates, as just six of the top 20 spending Republican campaigns were Trump endorsements.

Primary Advertising Spending Insights by Candidate

Here is a look at primary spending insights of several of Trump’s most high-profile endorsements:

JD Vance (R-OH)

The Ohio Senate primary was a true test of Trump’s influence in the Republican party. The crowded Ohio primary seemed to be undecided before Trump backed JD Vance on April 15. Vance, who was behind in the polls with only 11% of voters support, ended up winning the May 3 primary.

Vance’s campaign spent $1.7M on ads in total and hit a peak during the week of April 17 when Trump announced his decision to endorse JD Vance. Additionally, PACs both supporting and opposing Vance started spending exponentially more after the endorsement’s announcement.

Ad content shifted following the April 15 endorsement as well. The Vance campaign aired three ads that mentioned Donald Trump supporting JD Vance.

Heading into the general, Vance’s campaign has spent $1.7M and in a coordinated buy with the NRSC has placed $1.6M. In comparison, the Democratic nominee, Tim Ryan, has spent $22M. Ryan is ahead by two points in the most recent polls.

Vance’s ads airing before the general election have focused more on attacking Tim Ryan, however his ads from the primary that mention Trump’s endorsement are still airing.

David Perdue (R-GA)

Former US Senator David Perdue was running in the primary to oust Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. Perdue received Trump’s seal of approval back in 2021, making him one of the few candidates who had Trump’s support throughout the entire primary cycle.

Perdue spent a total of $1.3M across broadcast, cable, digital, and satellite media types leading up to the primary. All four of the television ads Perdue aired included a note regarding his endorsement by Trump. Perdue was greatly outspent by Kemp however, who dropped $6M in the primary.

Primary Spending Insights

The former Senator was spending consistently from February through April but stopped spending in May as he fell behind in the polls leading up to the election. Kemp has been spending on ads since 2019, totaling $750K before the beginning of 2022.

While Perdue was one of Trump’s few losses, he had several defeats in Georgia. Just two of Trump’s endorsements ended up winning in Georgia primaries.

Primary Spending Insights

In Georgia statewide primaries where Trump’s endorsements spent more money, endorsements won their respective primaries. Trump’s endorsements tended to not have as much of an influence on primary results as ad expenditures in Georgia’s primaries.

Arizona Sweep

In Arizona, all of Trump’s endorsements won in their primaries. The former president endorsed eight candidates during the primaries, and six of their campaigns spent for a total of $3.9M.

In races where his endorsed candidates were running opposed, other Republicans significantly outspent Trump’s picks.

No opposed Trump endorsement spent more than 13% of the total expenditure from Republicans, aside from Mark Finchem who spent 43% in the AZ Secretary of State primary. While the candidates were not spending at the highest rates in comparison to their Republican competition, each candidate still won their respective primary. Each of the candidates who we captured creatives from aired ads that mentioned Trump’s seal of approval. Kari Lake mentioned Donald Trump in every one of her aired ads. In Arizona, it seemed as though Republicans rode on the endorsement to win their primaries.

Overall, Trump’s record has been astounding in the primaries. Just one Trump endorsed incumbent (Madison Cawthorn (R-NC)) ended up losing their primary, and 92% of his endorsements have moved on to the general election in November. However, some note that Trump’s endorsement choices were rather strategic to ensure wins. We will continue providing spending insights for Trump endorsed candidates through the general election.

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