A Sprint to the Finish in the Online Race for Mayor of NYC

Candidates spend big on digital ads to be New Yorkers' #1 choice

Next Tuesday’s Democratic primary for Mayor of NYC is coming down to the wire. 😬 The final debate is happening tonight, and the general consensus is that no one really knows who’s the frontrunner anymore. Yang, Wiley, Adams, and Garcia all supposedly have a chance to come out on top, but how are their campaigns and outside backers trying to reach voters online? We take a quick look below. 

For starters, here’s how much each Democratic candidate for Mayor of New York spent on campaign Facebook advertising in the past 90 days:

Ray McGuire has unsurprisingly outspent the rest of the field, followed by the campaigns of Andrew Yang and Kathryn Garcia

Several of McGuire’s most recent video ads zero in on the issue of crime and public safety, touting his plan for “a safe & just New York City.” Previous Facebook ads run last month by the former Citigroup exec focused on creating jobs and jumpstarting the economy. 

Much of Andrew Yang’s online ad messaging also focus on stopping crime, in addition to introducing the candidate as an outsider to provide new leadership to the city. In other ads, he’s been unafraid to attack other candidates (namely Eric Adams) directly.

...and for Kathryn Garcia, endorsements have been everything. The majority of her ads on Facebook highlight her support from the New York Times editorial board and the New York Daily News. Much of her recent content is bilingual in Spanish, and also highlight her plans to help families. 

Among the others: Maya Wiley is running ads showcasing her coveted endorsement by AOC, and Eric Adams’ ads claim he’s a “progressive” and focus on public “safety and justice.” 

...But candidate spending doesn’t capture the whole picture in this race - outside groups supporting each candidate are spending heavily online too. Here’s what that looks like: 

What’s notable here is that New Start NYC, an outside group supporting former HUD Secretary Donovan, has spent more than 10X his actual campaign spend on Facebook advertising. Donovan’s candidacy has never really taken off, but that hasn’t stopped his supporters from throwing money at the problem.  

Beyond Facebook, the campaigns are likely spending heavily on Google and YouTube, but unfortunately, Google doesn’t currently provide reliable advertising data on municipal elections. FWIW, we’ve seen a few of their ads pop up on YouTube and Google Search, including McGuire’s and Wiley’s.  

On Snapchat, however, a few candidates and outside groups have been advertising this year. Those include the campaigns of Andrew Yang, Eric Adams, Ray McGuire, and an outside group backing Scott Stringer. None have spent significant dollars on the youth-focused platform. 

P.S. did you know that Nas, Jay-Z, and Diddy all endorsed Ray McGuire? Huh.

Think you know who’s going to win next week? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @FWIWnews!