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Campaigns Brief: Ted Cruz Is the Value Bet

In today’s edition: Trump’s lousy weekend in 5 states, more to come; TV spending crosses quarter billion mark; details on pro-Clinton PAC’s ad buy;

Ted Cruz, Value Bet

Donald Trump had a very bad weekend. In fact, he’s had a very bad month — and his campaign has few chances to turn his losing streak around. If one were inclined to venture out on a precarious limb, one might say the former front-runner for the Republican nomination is now a distinct underdog.

In states across the country, Trump’s campaign has demonstrated a unique misunderstanding of the rules governing the Republican nominating process. That lack of knowledge was on full display this weekend in states such as Iowa, Colorado and Virginia, where Trump’s chief rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, picked up additional delegates — and there are signs that Trump is ill-prepared to compete in other states as well.

The nominating process is a long, slow slog that in many states includes multiple rounds of voting before actual delegates are selected. Smart campaigns keep careful track of their supporters and volunteers even after votes are cast in key states. And nowhere has the disparity between Trump’s shoddy attention to detail and Cruz’s hawk-like obsession with rules been cast in starker contrast than in Iowa.

When Iowa kicked off the nominating process in February, Cruz scored 27.6 percent of the vote, enough to win him at least eight delegates. Trump took 24.3 percent, which would secure another seven delegates. But when those delegates elected at precinct-level caucuses showed up at congressional district caucuses this weekend, Cruz backers overwhelmed the Trump supporters: Cruz won 11 of the 12 delegates allocated. The remaining delegate is uncommitted.

And Cruz is poised to expand his lead: Cruz backers make up five of the eight members of the committee that nominates candidates to fill the remaining 15 at-large delegate slots at the state convention next month. The other three members of the committee are not aligned with any of the remaining candidates. When the final delegates are chosen, Cruz could control as many as 29 of the state’s 30 delegates.

A similar story played out in Wytheville, Va., where Republicans in Virginia’s 9th District met to elect convention delegates. The rural Coal Country district, represented by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R), went heavily for Trump in the March 1 primary; he won 47 percent of the vote, beating Cruz by nearly 30 points.

But two of the three delegates who won election at Saturday’s district convention are Cruz backers; they will be bound to vote for Trump on the first ballot, but they are free to vote for Cruz in the second round.

“Trump supporters aren’t party people. They don’t do these things, take Saturdays and come out to conventions. That’s not what they do,” Trump campaign district chairman Jack Morgan told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Cruz also outmaneuvered Trump in Colorado, where Cruz supporters overran disorganized Trump backers to win all 13 at-large delegates to the national convention. Cruz’s campaign won another 21 district-level delegates over the last several weeks, shutting out Trump altogether.

Trump faces challenges in Indiana, South Carolina and Michigan, too, where delegates who won election at state or district conventions over the weekend are vocal Cruz backers.

And there are signs that the weeks ahead won’t be easy for Trump. In Arkansas, both Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who dropped out of the Republican race last month, are planning to endorse slates of delegates ahead of the state convention on April 30, when 12 congressional district delegates will be elected; Trump backers say they haven’t heard from the campaign.

The Republican nominating process is far from over. While just 16 states have yet to cast their votes, only about a quarter of the 2,472 delegates who will be allowed to vote in Cleveland have been officially chosen. Trump is still likely to begin the convention with a lead among delegates, but he is likely to be short of the 1,237 necessary to win the nomination outright — and Cruz’s campaign is demonstrating the strategic advantage necessary to position himself as the anti-Trump alternative capable of picking up supporters on later ballots.

Read more here.

Who’s on Air This Week

Candidates and their supportive outside groups have now dropped more than $250 million on television and radio ads since the race for the White House kicked off more than a year ago. Here’s where the remaining five contenders are spending their cash this week:

Ted Cruz: Cruz’s team has yet to buy ads in New York or any other states holding later contests this week. That may be because Cruz’s win in Wisconsin didn’t come cheap: The campaign spent almost $1 million on ads there, while one of his super PACs added another $500,000.

John Kasich: Kasich’s campaign has ponied up $83,000 in cable ads in the New York City market this week. That’s not a lot of individual spots in the most expensive media market in the country. The pro-Kasich New Day for America PAC is spending $67,000 on Pittsburgh broadcast and cable.

Donald Trump: Trump’s campaign hasn’t bought any ads this week either. They spent $475,000 in a failed effort to close the gap with Cruz in Wisconsin. Anti-Trump super PACs spent $1.9 million in Wisconsin over the last few weeks.

Hillary Clinton: Clinton’s campaign dropped $1 million on New York television last week, and they’ve reserved another $368,000 in buys to begin tomorrow. But they’re looking ahead, too: The campaign spent $37,000 on Hartford broadcast and cable, $212,000 in five Pennsylvania markets and $33,000 in Providence ahead of the April 26 primaries in Northeastern states.

Bernie Sanders: The Sanders campaign has bought $1.6 million in New York ads already. And they’re also thinking ahead to April 26. They’ve reserved $404,000 in Connecticut, $1 million in Pennsylvania and $125,000 in Providence airtime so far.

Priorities’ Priorities

Last week, we told you that the pro-Clinton Priorities USA Action was reserving time in key early states. Now, we have the details of those buys, the first of which begin August 2. Here’s where Priorities mastermind Guy Cecil is spending his cash:

Colorado: $2.1 million in the Colorado Springs-Pueblo market. $4.2 million in Denver, and $167,000 on statewide cable.

Florida: $5.5 million in the Orlando market, $4.5 million in Tampa-St. Petersburg and $2.2 million in the West Palm Beach market. They also have $303,000 reserved on statewide cable.

Iowa: $2 million in the Cedar Rapids market, almost $2.8 million in Des Moines, $800,000 in the Quad Cities, and $114,000 on statewide cable.

New Hampshire: $2.3 million on Boston broadcast and cable. $314,000 in Burlington-Plattsburgh. $3.75 million on Manchester broadcast. $187,000 on Portland stations. And $35,000 on statewide cable.

Nevada: $4 million on Las Vegas broadcast, $1.8 million on Reno broadcast and $75,000 on statewide cable purchased so far.

Ohio: $1.7 million on Cincinnati broadcast, almost $4 million in Cleveland, $2.5 million in Columbus, $1.1 million in Dayton and $937,000 in Toledo. They’ll also spend $257,000 on statewide cable.

Virginia: $1.25 million in Norfolk-Portsmouth, $1.6 million in Richmond, $1.6 million in Roanoke, and $971,000 in the Tri Cities, along with another $174,000 in statewide cable.

Voters Share Sanders’ Disdain for Wall Street

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) may have shown an embarrassing lack of sophistication about the finance industry in a recent interview with New York Daily News, but Morning Consult’s polling shows he has tapped in to a general dislike of Wall Street across the political spectrum.

A solid majority of registered voters polled since November (52 percent) say Wall Street banks and corporations hurt the country as a whole, and 60 percent say that they have too much influence in the United States. Almost half (46 percent) believe there should be more regulation of Wall Street firms, and 39 percent say big banks and corporations have hurt them personally.

If people have an opinion about Wall Street at all, it is likely to be negative. At least 20 percent of registered voters say they don’t know or have no opinion about Wall Street banks and corporations. By contrast, very few say Wall Street helps the country (18 percent) or themselves (13 percent) or that banks and corporations should be regulated less (13 percent) or have too little influence on the country (6 percent).

Not surprisingly, Sanders supporters are even more vehement in their hatred of Wall Street than other voters. About three-fourths of Sanders supporters say Wall Street banks and corporations have too much influence on the country (77 percent) and hurt the United States (71 percent).

Morning Consult’s policy questions were asked of voters from November 2015 through April 16, 2016. The poll was conducted among a national sample of 17,967 votes, with 5,543 responding to the Wall Street portion of the questionnaire.

More from Fawn Johnson on the Morning Consult Policy Index here.