Boob Tube

I’ve been writing here for a while about the apparent disconnect between presidential candidates who are spending early money on TV ads and how they seem to be doing in the Invisible Primary. Now thanks to NBC News and its ad-tracker SMG Delta, we have some numbers to work with. Mark Murray has the story:

Jeb Bush’s campaign and his Right to Rise Super PAC have spent more than $10 million in TV ads since September — more than any other candidate or 2016 entity.

And they have little to show for it so far.

Broken down, Right to Rise has spent $2.8 million in Iowa; $6 million in New Hampshire; and $1.9 million in South Carolina. Team Bush has actually been outspent on ads in Iowa by Team Jindal with $3.1 million. In the Selzer poll released today, the two heavy advertisers have a combined total of 7% of likely Caucus-goers.

Kasich has nearly matched Bush in NH, with $5.8 million in advertising. The early blitz helped the Ohio governor avoid the calamity of failing to make the first candidate debate cutoff, but he hasn’t accomplished a whole lot since then, other than losing his initial lead in his own home state (the latest survey has him trailing Trump and Carson there).

Chris Christie has supplemented his favorable debate performances with $4.2 million in ads in NH, but in the latest RCP average he’s still running under 4% in the Granite State.

The ad spending will obviously pick up and become more general before the actual voting starts, though a lot of consultants think TV ads during the Holidays are ineffective. We’ve yet to see the first effective use of TV by Republicans in this cycle, and that could cause some early casualties.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.