Why Cruz is better positioned than Trump: Campaign fundamentals still matter

This is where the ground game comes in. Television advertising is pretty scatter shot. Radio advertising is a bit more precise because, for example, urban radio listeners tend to be Democrats and talk radio listeners tend to be Republicans. More and more younger voters have gone to Netflix, which does not show commercials; it is difficult to place that 4 percent.

Candidates need ground operations to go door to door to meet voters. Voters who have personally interacted with a campaign at their doorstep are more likely to vote for a candidate than those who just saw a commercial or got a phone call. In the underlying campaign data, it appears that Donald Trump has yet to get a voter file — a file that shows all the voters in a state, their partisan affiliation, and most importantly, which of those voters ever show up to vote in primaries and caucuses.

It also turns out that Ted Cruz has the most cash on hand of any Republican, but along with Marco Rubio, has been diligently building ground operations to go knock on doors and meet voters. These fundamentals get ignored, but it does very little good for campaigns to fly around the country giving speeches if they do not have an operation to then capture the identities of their voters, knock on their voters’ doors, and get those voters to the polls on a snowy, winter day in Iowa or New Hampshire next year.