As Drew McCoy says, what are they planning to “reinvest” in with 32 days to go? More MAGA hats?
I think there’s less to this than meets the eye, though:
Trump campaign is canceling hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising in Fla, NC, OH, possibly other states, per two buying sources.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 7, 2016
Confirmed that Trump is canceling ad buys in Fla, NC, OH worth a total of $1.5m (could be higher). Campaign may reinvest though.
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) October 7, 2016
Politico has a list of all the markets where they’re canceling buys. You can understand going dark in Florida temporarily when everyone’s focused on the weather, not the election, but why go dark in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania? Even if the campaign’s ready to give up on PA — which would be an ominous sign for Trump’s chances — Ohio is still ultra-competitive and must-win for him, and early voting has already started there. Unless this is a matter of reallocating money to different TV markets within the state, or pushing the ads out to the final two weeks or so of the election as part of a final message blitz, it’s hard to see why they’d do it.
Per RCP, at least some of the money is being reallocated:
The latest on Trump's ad $: they've added some advertising for the following week in Columbus, per my source. Suggests they're shuffling $
— Rebecca Berg (@rebeccagberg) October 7, 2016
Could it be there’s also less money for ads at this point than they’d like? Politico tried reading the tea leaves on that 10 days ago:
Trump’s campaign last week said that it was planning a $140-million television and digital advertising push between this week and Election Day, in an effort to cut into the massive advertising advantage enjoyed by Clinton.
But entering this month, the campaign did not have the money in the bank to pay for the effort, which would represent by far its most ambitious advertising push of the 2016 election. Trump’s most recent Federal Election Commission filing shows that his campaign had only $50 million in the bank at the end of August…
One of the people close to Trump said the real estate developer and reality TV star is “prepared to do whatever it takes personally to win. But the cash has been pouring in and we have a lot more cash than people think. Now, there’s actually cash there to pay for the $140 million.”
The $140 million figure was not a head fake designed to psych Clinton out, the source insisted at the time. Now we’re left to wonder. Charitably, though, maybe they’ve got the money for the ads and have simply concluded that TV spots aren’t the best use of their resources at this point. Hillary’s been running ads for five months now in battleground states — unopposed for much of the summer — and yet the election was a jump ball as recently as three weeks ago, before she began to regain some of her lost lead. (It may be that a steady barrage of ads has helped protect Clinton’s support more than it helped to build it. She’s a bad candidate. Reminding voters regularly that the alternative is also terrible might have kept some lukewarm Clinton voters in the fold.) As for what Trump might be spending on instead, read this. If in fact he’s decided at the last minute to repurpose ad money towards building a more robust data operation, that seems judicious to me. Ads probably matter less to mega-celebrity candidates like Trump and Clinton than they would a less well-known candidate like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. At this point you know who the two nominees are; witness the gigantic audience for the first debate. Moving money for airtime on Youngstown TV over towards identifying unlikely voters in Youngstown instead is a better use of resources, I’d guess — if in fact that’s what’s happening.
A less charitable explanation is that Team Trump has quietly resigned itself to losing and is beginning to cut its losses. I seriously doubt it, even though it’s the pet theory among most anti-Trumpers on social media this afternoon, but numbers like this do make me wonder how competitive, say, Florida will really be on Election Day:
Meanwhile, voter-registration records show, Democrats are walloping Republicans. The Florida Democratic Party has submitted about 488,000 voter-registration forms it has collected for this election, while Republicans have submitted roughly 60,000, according to state reports.
In all, about 1.9 million voter-registration forms have been collected by nearly 700 groups statewide. Most of those groups appear Democrat-leaning or are dedicated to registering poor, young and minority voters who tend to vote for Democrats. The National Council of La Raza/Democracia USA, for instance, has registered about 49,000 people for this election — nearly all Hispanic, at least 60 percent of whom are voting for Clinton, records show.
Remember, according to the Times, the GOP’s own private polling shows a sharp drop for Trump among women and independents over the past few weeks. And Team Clinton is preparing a financial blitz of its own over the last three weeks of the campaign to the tune of $80 million on advertising plus many millions more from Hillary’s $150 million cash on hand towards GOTV operations. If her lead widens further next week, will Team Trump empty the coffers to try to pull an upset or decide that there’s no point bankrupting itself on a lost cause?
Here he is announcing a rally next week in … New Jersey?
Update: In fact, says the NYT, they’re shifting the money they pulled from smaller markets into larger ones — a bit of a surprising move since urban areas tend to skew Democratic. Maybe Team Trump thinks they’re already strong enough in smaller markets that it’s pointless to spend extra money there.
Donald J. Trump’s campaign is shifting more than $1.8 million in advertising planned in key battleground states for next week, taking money out of small markets and reinvesting in larger markets, according to several media buyers who track political advertisements.
The $1.8 million shift represents a roughly 23 percent reduction in Mr. Trump’s $7.1 million in ad reservations for next week, and is an unusual move in going to more expensive, higher density markets, leaving other areas dark.
For example, the Trump campaign only kept the Miami, Orlando and Tampa markets in Florida. In Iowa, they canceled ads in Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Sioux City, leaving just Des Moines and Omaha, Neb. (which reaches solidly Republican western Iowa).