Uh Oh: Team Trump Canceling Ads in FL, OH, NC?

Posted: Oct 07, 2016 5:40 PM

An ominous sign, or no big deal? On its face, this move looks worrisome for Trump, but his campaign is offering an explanation (spin?) for what's really going on. Let's start with basics. The Trump campaign has reportedly canceled $1.5 million in on-air ads slated for markets in Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio -- plus a few markets in Colorado, Iowa, New England and Pennsylvania. Here's the complete list:

For what it's worth, the Trump camp says it's reallocating those resources from "over-performing" areas to new markets, and that the buy is actually expanding by $1 million (though details are scant):

What to make of this?  On one hand, Jason Miller is a Cruz alum, and that campaign really did operate a sophisticated data operation -- as Trump himself discovered the hard way in Iowa.  On the other hand, I don't understand this logic.  Why zero out any buys at all, especially in must-win states like Florida and Ohio?  Trump has surrendered the RCP average lead in the former, but remains competitive (the same is true in North Carolina), and is still ahead in the latter, but just by a whisker.  If there are other markets that need some boosting, the Trump campaign should just grow its ad buy to include them.  Part of Trump's appeal in the primaries is that he's a mega-rich self-funder who could do whatever it takes to win.  Cut a big check, moneybags.  It's crunch time, and as you've said, losing to Crooked Hillary would be embarrassing.  Here are a few more skeptical takes from a campaign pro and an elections expert:

Exactly. Let's say Trump really is crushing it in certain areas of these states.  A good campaign presses its advantage to ensure strong turnout; the whole ballgame at the state level is turnout.  Other Trump defenders have responded to today's news by arguing that Trump is smart not to waste money on TV in a digital media age.  If that's the case, why did he invest in these spots in the first place?   Why did he publicly mull a 'shock and awe' home-stretch blitz?  And why are they supposedly expanding the buy?  Another question: Absent a major cash injection from the candidate, do they have the money for this?  Signs are mixed.  Meanwhile, turnout tea leaves are starting to look pretty dicey for Team Trump, even with some bright spots.  The RNC has done its best to use the national ground game they've built to augment/supplant the nominee's unserious campaign, but results are results:

With the race widening again in Hillary's favor, Sunday's debate becomes hugely important.  Trump cannot afford another loss.  How's he preparing to improve?  By re-litigating a decades-old racial controversy about which he's been proven wrong by DNA evidence, and diminishing the importance of debate preparation:

Donald Trump took a relatively loose approach to his debate warm-up Thursday night during a town hall-style event in New Hampshire, regularly blowing through his two-minute clock and taking only about a dozen questions. The Manhattan billionaire said he could afford to take it easy because “Hillary Clinton is resting, okay?” “I said forget debate prep. I mean, give me a break,” Trump said Thursday night. “Do you really think that Hillary Clinton is debate-prepping for three or four days? Hillary Clinton is resting, okay?”

What could go wrong?  I'll leave you with the latest national data: