Washington (AFP) - Presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg, the multi-billionaire former mayor of New York, has shattered the record for campaign advertising, spending a staggering $364.3 million and counting, an ad tracker said Friday.
The unprecedented amount recently surpassed the previous record spending by Barack Obama's campaign during his entire 2012 re-election effort, Advertising Analytics reported.
"Bloomberg surpassed Obama's 2012 spending record of $338.3M, making him the highest spending candidate of all time," the non-partisan group said in a newsletter.
The figures include only those for traditional broadcast advertising on television and radio.
Bloomberg, seeking the Democratic Party nomination, is also far ahead in digital advertising, and spent $14.5 million on Facebook and Google ads alone last week -- more than 10 times all his Democratic competitors combined.
The overall amount does not include spending by outside groups not formally connected to political parties, but which spend heavily during election season in support of -- or opposition to -- specific candidates.
In the 2016 cycle, spending by super PACs (political action committees) and other groups that can spend unlimited funds but are barred from coordinating with campaigns topped $1.4 billion, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Bloomberg's spending may be in its early stages, given that just two of the 50 US states have voted in the race to determine who faces President Donald Trump in November -- and he didn't formally compete in either of them.
He actually chose to skip the first four state-wide nominating contests, including Nevada which votes on Saturday, opting instead to make a splash on "Super Tuesday" on March 3, when 14 states vote.
Bloomberg has blanketed those states, including California and Texas, with advertising.
The investment by the media mogul, who founded the global news giant that bears his name, has helped rocket him into contention after only entering the race in November, months later than his rivals.
Several of them including frontrunner Bernie Sanders, a leftist firebrand, have accused Bloomberg of trying to "buy" his way into the election.
He is currently polling in third place nationally, behind Sanders and former vice president Joe Biden.