During the 2012 presidential election, when Republican Mitt Romney was running against then-president Barack Obama, what eventually became known as the on-demand economy was just ramping up. That year, Uber had launched its first non-luxury service, UberX, and Lyft was officially introduced to the public. Airbnb, founded in 2008, was seeing substantial growth at that time and HomeAway had just introduced online booking.
The 2016 presidential election, then, was a first for a lot of reasons. It was the first time presidential campaigns spent money on Lyft, Airbnb and Homeaway, according to FEC filings consulting firm Hamilton Place Strategies pulled together. It’s also the first time presidential campaigns spent more on Uber rides than taxis.
Between the three big on-demand companies, Hillary Clinton’s campaign spent the most money on Uber. During the 2016 election cycle, the Clinton campaign spent $17,011.15 on Uber rides and just $5,826.52 on taxis, nearly four times what Donald Trump’s campaign paid the company. Clinton’s campaign only spent $411.52 on Lyft . Clinton’s camp spent a lot more on hotels than Airbnb, though. Her campaign paid $3,619,405.02 on hotels, but just $1,200 on Airbnb. In total, the Clinton campaign spent $18,640.67 on Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb.
For people working to get a hotel magnate elected, Donald Trump’s campaign spent a decent amount on Airbnb. Trump’s campaign spent $22,660.00 on the home share company and $19,036.00 on competitor HomeAway. These numbers pale in comparison to the $4,579,404.00 the campaign spent on hotel accommodations, but it’s an interesting development considering hotel groups’ opposition to Airbnb’s presence and the looming regulatory obstacles the company is facing in cities like San Francisco and New York.
Trump’s campaign didn’t take too many Ubers, but still spent more on the ride-share platform than traditional taxis ($4,791.00 and $3,780.00 respectively.) His campaign didn’t spend any money on Lyft. In total, the Trump campaign spent $46,487.00 on sharing economy companies.
One takeaway from both campaigns’ spending in the 2016 election cycle is that, while spend on taxis was waning, money spent on hotels remained high. That’s not too surprising considering the near daily travels of the two candidates and their campaigns. The biggest takeaway? Neither campaign spent very much on Lyft — not a great sign for the younger ride-hail player.