Election 2020

Big Spending Not Yielding Big Results in GOP Race

Image courtesy AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps.

Via NBC News:

By now, the insiders-versus-outsiders theme of the GOP presidential race isn’t exactly revelatory, but what’s continually surprising to us is the degree to which the party’s insurgents are floating far above their rivals despite spending barely any cash. The NBC political unit crunched the latest numbers from ad-spending partner SMG Delta this afternoon and found that the three top-spending establishment candidates (Bush, Rubio and Kasich) are outspending the three top-polling insurgent candidates (Trump, Carson and Cruz) by a factor of SIXTEEN to ONE. That’s not a typo; those three more traditional candidates and their superPACs have already shelled out close to $50 million in television ads, while their outsider foes have spent less than $3 million. Which leads us to ask two questions 1) Is the “establishment” tag now such a problem that candidates can’t even spend their way out of it? and 2) Has the media landscape shifted so much that, at long last, TV ads have simply lost their onetime status as the safest bet to build public support?

Both of the questions asked there are valid, but the fact that the first one was even asked shows just how far from the norm we’ve come in this primary season.

In the past, the establishment candidates generally didn’t have to spend their way out of anything at this point in the cycle. This is where they did the bare minimum and sat on their piles of cash until primary voters headed to the polls.

Jeb Bush is spending a fortune in this race because he has to continually redefine himself and reboot his message, more problems that establishment favorite fat cats haven’t dealt with much in the past. If there were any rationale for Jeb’s candidacy other than, “Hey, it’s mine!” we might not have seen the rise of Trump.

The second question hits the nail squarely on the head and drives it through the board with one blow. The media landscape has been rapidly shifting for several elections, and the pace is accelerating. We’re a little more than a decade removed from the Karl Rove model TV ad and watching that approach is like watching silent black-and-white movies. It took the RNC quite some time to realize that. They are much better now but still playing catch-up.

There are current and potential Republican voters out there who aren’t in their eighties, and the party is just getting around to realizing that.

None of them are watching the evening network news or political ads.