Because of social distancing and other rules imposed by officials because of the Covid-19 crisis, this election cycle, the get the vote out drives by candidates and special interest groups have gone online. Political advertising online has also become essential. Of the online platforms, Facebook offers the largest social media platform for politicians because of its primary site, Instagram and its communications platform, Messenger.
And, also because of the controversies over foreign intervention in American elections, Facebook has offered tools with which to monitor political advertising and who is paying for it. The El Paso Politics consulted the Facebook Ad Library to understand how El Paso mayoral candidates are using Facebook for political advertising.
This is what we found.
Veronica Carbajal ran 36 advertisements on Facebook for her campaign. The first one ran on December 13, 2019. Carbajal spent $1,708 on Facebook advertisement through November 1.
In addition to spending advertising dollars in support of her campaign, Carbajal also purchased a Facebook advertisement she used to criticize Dee Margo’s handling of the Covid-19 emergency.
Carbajal spent less than $100 on the advertisement criticizing Margo between October 24 and 26. It was shown to less than 1,000 viewers.
Carbajal maintains two campaign profiles. The one on Facebook (@VeroforEP2020) has 2,122 likes. The one Instagram (@veroformayor2020) has 2,638 followers.
Oscar Leeser paid for 58 Facebook advertisements. The first one ran on May 29, 2019, according to the Facebook database. Through November 1, Leeser has spent $4,364, the most of the top four mayoral candidates. Leeser maintains a Facebook political page (@oscarleeserforelpaso) with 2,846 likes.
Carlos Gallinar purchased 59 Facebook advertisements for $3,043. The first advertisement was published on March 27, 2020. Gallinar’s Facebook advertisement expense was the second largest of the top four candidates.
Gallinar also recently donated to Bob Moore’s El Paso Matters publication.
Gallinar maintains one Facebook campaign profile (@gallinarforelpaso). It has 1,550 likes.
Dee Margo purchased the least amount of Facebook advertisements and spent the least amount of the top four mayoral candidates. Margo ran his first advertisement on February 3. He spent $820 through November 1 for 24 advertisements. Margo maintains two campaign profiles. The first is on Facebook (@mayormargo). It has 6,167 likes. The second one, on Instagram (@mayor_margo) has 3,140 followers.
Unlike the other mayoral candidates, Dee Margo had several other Facebook advertisements mentioning him.
One was by CommUNITY en Acción, is an Hispanic business networking group created by Gilberto Moreno, one of the original members of the Paso del Norte Group (PDNG). The group’s advertisement ran on April 5, 2019. It congratulated Margo and the city manager for an excellence award.
The group spent less than $100. The advertisement was viewed by less than 1,000 viewers.
Another Facebook advertisement was paid for by Frontline PBS. It ran for two days in 2019, August 16 and 17. It was viewed by 10,000 to 15,000 viewers. PBS spent under $200 for the advertisement.
Two other Facebook advertisements mentioned Margo. They were paid for by Mayor Byron W. Brown and the City of Las Cruces Government in 2019.
Jud Burgess who frequently opines about the city’s government purchased six advertisements against Dee Margo. He has spent $128 through November 1. Burgess’ Facebook (@JamesNoEPISDBond) profile has 832 likes.
El Paso Politics will continue to report on Election Day events throughout the day.
Note: The likes and followers were taken from the Facebook advertising disclosure database. They were last retrieved on November 3, 2020.