Bloomberg Is Spending Big on Peoria TV Ads. Why?

Jan 13, 2020

Illinois isn't typically in play in presidential primaries. Peoria, even less so.

Yet for former New York Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, the Peoria-Bloomington television market is fertile ground for cascades of campaign ads.

Bloomberg's campaign purchased a total of 187 ad spots during local newscasts on WEEK-TV and WMBD-TV in the month of January alone, at a combined cost of more than $120,000.

They're more familiar at this time of year to early primary voters across the Mississippi River in Iowa, the first primary state, than the Land of Lincoln.

The Bloomberg campaign is taking an untraditional approach to the primaries. The campaign said in an e-mail that Bloomberg isn't making any ad buys in Iowa. He is buying television ads in some parts of southern New Hampshire, but only because of its proximity to Boston.

Massachusetts is one of 14 states whose primary falls on March 3. The day is often referred to as "Super Tuesday" due to the number of races slated across the country. 

The Illinois primary falls later, on March 17. But as one of the nation's most populous states, Illinois has 155 delegates up for grabs, and it's unclear by how much the wide Democratic primary field will whittle down by then. 

Bloomberg, a late entrant to the race, has already spent $200 million on advertising nationwide since his campaign launch in late November. That's nearly equal to the amount of money spent by the rest of the field. He's also hired more than 500 campaign staffers in 30 states, including Illinois. 

A RealClearPolitics polling average shows him at a 5.8 percent nationwide. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders and and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigeg all lead the former New York mayor.