U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke of Texas has spent more than any other U.S. politician this election cycle, according to newly released data from Facebook.
The Democratic challenger to incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz forked over more than $5.4 million on Facebook ads since May — more than 10 times the amount the Republican spent on his re-election bid over that same time period.
According to the Federal Election Commission, O’Rourke has the money to burn. He raised $61.8 million in support of his campaign, compared with $24.8 million for Cruz.
Donald J. Trump, who repeatedly has accused the social media giant of liberal bias, spent nearly $5 million on more than 100,000 ads purchased through his Make America Great Again Committee and his Trump for President organization.
The National Republican Congressional Committee also spent heavily on the midterm elections, devoting $1.5 million to Facebook advertising, as it seeks to defend its majorities in both houses against motivated political opponents who’ve turned the 2018 race into a referendum on Trump.
Hedge fund billionaire and political activist Tom Steyer spent $1.7 million on Facebook to promote his Need to Impeach campaign, seeking Trump’s ouster. (The Democrat is mulling his own White House bid.)
Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who is considered a top Democratic presidential contender in 2020, also was among the big spenders, buying more than $1 million in advertising on Facebook.
Opponents of one of the California ballot measures, Proposition 8, plowed nearly $1 million into Facebook ads in an effort to sway the state’s voters. Kaiser Health News has reported that the dialysis industry has contributed more than $104 million to defeat the measure, which would cap dialysis clinic profits at 115% of the costs of patient care.
Facebook released its first advertising archive in May, in the interest of promoting greater transparency around political advertising. This second edition makes it easier to see who is spending most lavishly on the platform, see who was spending the most money on Facebook and even inspect individual ads.
The social media giant has been working vigorously to restore a reputation heavily tarnished by the 2016 presidential election, where it was blamed for the spread of fake news and for allowing millions of users’ data to be harvested for political purposes by Cambridge Analytical.
Facebook notes, almost as an aside, that it was the biggest political spender on its own platform. The company spent $12.5 on ads related to politics and issues of national importance. In total, it reaped $256.4 million in revenue from political ads this campaign cycle.