Thirty-four days out from the general election, Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton) hasn’t spend a dime on Facebook or Instagram ads.
Smith, who is seeking a 21st term in the House, last put money behind ads on social media in December 2018, when he spent less than $100 on an ad boosting his statement on the death of President George H.W. Bush. He has no ads running on Facebook-owned platforms.
The strategy is a departure for Smith, who spent $12,039 behind ad buys on Facebook-owned platforms between May 7, 2018 and Dec. 12, 2018. Then, Smith was facing a challenge from Josh Welle.
He beat that year’s Democratic challenger by 12 points, securing another term representing New Jersey’s most solidly-Republican district.
The incumbent’s challenger, Stephanie Schmid, is also spending little on digital advertising.
So far this cycle, Schmid has put $6,753 behind ads on Facebook and Instagram, including $638 between Sept. 22 and Sept. 28.
For comparison, Rosemary Becchi, the 11th congressional district’s Republican challenger, bought $5,336 worth of ads on Facebook and Instagram in that same seven-day period. She’s spent roughly four times as much, $24,350, on digital ads as Schmid has this cycle.
Her spending is more in line with Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean’s (R-Westfield). Kean, who is seeking Rep. Tom Malinowski’s seventh-district House seat, purchased $803 of Facebook and Instagram ads on a Sept. 26 ad buy after running no digital ads for most of September. His total spending for the cycle is $11,337.
Amy Kennedy, the state’s only other Democratic House challenger spent $22,619 on digital ads during the seven-day period. She’s put $129,218 behind Facebook and Instagram ads since launching her campaign.
The numbers make on thing clear: Neither candidate in the fourth district is putting a great deal of money behind their digital strategies, but that may be more of a problem for Schmid than the incumbent.
While Smith does not have a campaign Twitter account, his social media followings dwarf those of the challenger.
His official Twitter account has roughly 35,700 followers. Schmid’s campaign Twitter has 2,518.
The incumbent has 21,622 Facebook followers, 12,837 coming from his governmental account and the remaining 8,785 from his campaign account.
While Smith has no campaign Instagram account, his official account’s 1,447 followers more than double the 711 following Schmid’s campaign Instagram.