"It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS." - Les Moonves, CBS chairman, president and CEO on Donald Trump's presidential run
It was late February when CBS Chairman, President and CEO Les Moonves weighed in on the wild race for the Republican nomination. At this point in the contest, real-estate magnate Donald Trump had swept away former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, five other sitting or former governors, a handful of senators and fellow outsider and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina. The only opponents Trump had left were Ohio Governor John Kasich, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Carson would bow out a week later, followed by Rubio in mid-March. Cruz and Kasich lasted until early May.
Despite being beaten by Trump, none went down quietly. Between his campaign and a Super PAC formed for the purpose, Jeb Bush had about $150 million at his disposal to fight for the nomination. The Carson campaign raised nearly $63 million, with outside groups adding another $16 million. Rubio's campaign raised nearly $50 million and his Super PACs and other groups added another $78 million. Cruz's campaign and allied groups raised nearly $189 million. A separate movement, dubbed #NeverTrump, raised and spent millions with the sole aim of submarining Trump's candidacy.
The list goes on and it's just a drop in the bucket of what will be spent on elections across the board -- Gubernatorial, Senate and House races -- in 2016. With Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton set to face off, Wall Street analysts and other observers are expecting political spending to soar to new heights, with some estimates pegging it at $11.7 billion, up from $9.4 billion in 2012. Digital spending is set to eclipse $1 billion for the first election ever, up from $159 million in 2012.
Where will all this money go? Some goes to campaign consultants and staffers. Some goes to events and pizza for late night work efforts by campaign volunteers. But most of it will go into the coffers of companies like CBS(CBS) - Get Report , E.W. Scripps(SSP) - Get Report , Gray Television(GTN) - Get Report , Nexstar(NXST) - Get Report , Media General (MEG) and other owners of local television stations, which figure heavily in political advertising. Comcast(CMCSA) - Get Report (which owns NBC and Telemundo), Disney(DIS) - Get Report (which owns ABC), 21st Century Fox(FOXA) - Get Report (which owns Fox News), and Time Warner (TWX) (which owns CNN) have also benefited with bonanza ratings for debates and campaign coverage and ad buys. Technology companies like Facebook(FB) - Get Report , Alphabet(GOOGL) - Get Report , Snapchat, Twitter(TWTR) - Get Report and many others have been capturing a larger-than-ever piece of the political advertising buy, while also benefiting from higher rates of user engagement through copious Tweets, videos and other posts about politics. Broadcast TV still dominates this landscape, pulling more than half the advertising dollars.
Some of these firms will spend the money on dividends, buybacks, and servicing debt, as they have in the past. Others will use it to make up for shortfalls in non-political years. Yet others will use their take to prove to investors that they can be viable media players in the future. Some will just drop it right to the bottom line. Old media like TV and radio will also use the money for acquisitions and to fuel digital growth, while social media companies will continue to invest in the future.
For example, investors of Spanish-language television station group Entravision EVC should know that the company plans on using a third of the cash flow for dividends, a third for debt and a third for acquisitions, according to CFO Chris Young.
TheStreet has taken a close look at why we're seeing this huge increase in spending -- and which companies are best positioned to benefit. Read on to see what the political bloodbath will bring in 2016 and how you should invest to capitalize on it:
-- Which TV Broadcasters Will Win the Political Ad Spending War
-- Which Radio Broadcasters Will Roar Back in 2016
-- The First $1 Billion Digital Election
-- The Real "Facebook Election"
-- 2016 Is a Make-or-Break Year for Twitter
-- How Pandora Is a Campaign's Secret Weapon
-- Look to the Senate: These Races Will Cost the Most
-- The Trump Effect: How the Weirdest Candidate Ever Will Change Political Advertising Forever
-- The Trump Effect: 2018 and Beyond
-- Battleground Florida: Deep Dive Into the State's Races and How They'll Spend
-- Super PAC Breakdown: How Clinton's Priorities USA Will Spend Its $136 Million