Tom Steyer Spent Over $5,000 in Ads for Each Caucus Vote He Got in Iowa

The billionaire blanketed the state in ads, but he looks set for an eighth-place finish, behind “uncommitted.”
tom steyer ads iowa

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Joe Biden might have had the most disappointing three-day-long Iowa caucus in history. But at least he’s not Tom Steyer.

Steyer, banking on a big coming-out party in Iowa, blanketed the state in ads from the very beginning of his campaign through the final day. The Californian billionaire spent $16.3 million on ads in Iowa alone, according to a CMAG/Kantar analysis made public by ABC News on Monday night.


The result was not what you’d expect for someone who pummeled the state with ads for months on end. Although the final results (still) have yet to be confirmed, 97 of precincts had reported their results as of Thursday morning. Steyer was the first choice of just 3,001 voters so far, good for 1.7 % of the first-choice vote and a seventh-place finish. Unless the final precincts deviate wildly from the results so far, Steyer’s ad spend will come to well over $5,000 per vote.

READ MORE: Sorry, but not everyone gets to be president

But given that this wasn’t good enough to stay viable in most precincts, his number dropped to just 407 votes in the second alignment, just 0.2 % of the vote and the equivalent of seven state delegates so far. In the second alignment, Steyer looks set for an eighth-place finish: behind “uncommitted,” or the number of people who decided not to vote at all the second time around.

So far, Steyer has spent over $200 million on his campaign, most of which — apart from $3 million in donations — has come out of his own pocket, according to FEC records.

Despite his poor showing in Iowa, Steyer doesn’t appear to be exiting the presidential race anytime soon. "Look, I got in late to this race. I was the last person to get into Iowa," Steyer said in a CNN town hall Wednesday night. "We're now going toward the states where we're going to build the kind of diverse coalition that is not only going to win the nomination but beat Mr. Trump in November."

At the very least, it seems, Steyer’s in it until the end of this month: While he’s spent less than $3 million on ads in New Hampshire ahead of its primary next week, according to FiveThirtyEight, Steyer has so far spent over $20 million combined in Nevada and South Carolina.

Cover: Democratic presidential candidate businessman Tom Steyer reacts while speaking to a member of the audience at a campaign stop at the Grumpy Goat Tavern, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in Ankeny, Iowa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)