All presidential campaigns must contend with factors that tilt the playing field to one party or another, such as electoral districts, state demographics and incumbency.
For the 2016 election, Democrats appear to have solidified advantages in tech, data and paid media that represent a similar fundamental force working in their favor.
One straightforward example is TV inventory. Since a campaign reform law in 2002, the Federal Communications Commission has guaranteed candidates what’s called the “lowest unit rate,” meaning any TV station can only charge the lowest rate it applies to any inventory for a relevant time slot – endowing candidates with massive scale at a bargain.
The law itself is impartial, but Republicans raise and spend substantially more of their dollars through super PACs, which buy at market prices (or even at a premium) – leading to effectively lower TV rates for Democratic campaigns.
“There’s no question that Democrats get more bang for their buck on TV spending,” said Eli Kaplan, founding partner at the liberal digital agency Rising Tide Interactive. But, he cautioned, “that can be out-maneuvered if Democrats get so wildly outspent by Republican super PACs.”