Digital political advertising spending in the U.S. will cross the $1 billion threshold for the first time this year, according to a recent forecast by digital market research company eMarketer.

eMarketer’s latest election spending figures show digital advertising—which includes federal, state and local races—topping $1.34 billion during the 2019-2020 election cycle, an increase of about $900 million since the 2015/2016 presidential race.

U.S. digital political ad spending, 2015/20916 vs. 2019/2020 (in billions)U.S. digital political ad spending, 2015/20916 vs. 2019/2020 (in billions).

eMarketer attributes the spending surge on the unusually large number of Democratic presidential primary candidates competing for the party’s nomination in this election cycle, which includes noted contributions from billionaire candidates Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, who have both spent historic sums in campaigns that have prioritized digital media outreach.  

Altogether, eMarketer predicts that total political media advertising revenues during the 2019/2020 political campaign period will approach a record-breaking $7 billion ($6.89 billion), accounting for an increase of about $2.67 billion from the 2015-2016 cycle.

Digital makes up a little less than 20 percent of this (19.4 percent), yet nearly double the 10.5 percent digital accounted for during 2015/2016 campaign cycle.

Television continues to serve as the preferred political ad spending channel, with eMarketer estimating that TV ad spends will make up two-thirds (66 percent) of the total $6.89 billion spent on political ads during the 2019-2020 election cycle.