Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush leaves following a town hall gathering at Turbocam International in Barrington, N.H., on Aug. 7, 2015.
Photo by Gretchen Ertl/Reuters

More TV ad money, more problems

Biggest spenders in 2016 race (in terms of TV ads) aren’t necessarily leading in the polls… Questions to ask as the 3rd fundraising quarter comes to an end… If Biden gets in, he’d have some serious catching up to do in the fundraising race… Per NBC/WSJ/Telemundo oversample, Trump certainly isn’t winning the Latino vote… Paul vs. Ted Cruz… Hillary comes out against “Cadillac Tax” in health-care law… McCarthy letting the Benghazi cat out of the bag?… Trump’s tax plan costs $12 trillion (!!!)…And Nikki Haley’s approval rating remains at 55%, but her support changes.

FIRST THOUGHTS

*** Hey, big spenders — it hasn’t helped your poll numbers just yet: How much does money matter in the current presidential contest? So far, not that much – at least in terms of those who have spent the most on TV ads. Indeed, with a few exceptions, our list of the biggest spenders in the TV ad wars looks like an INVERSE to the current polling, according to the latest ad-spending data by NBC partner SMG Delta:

  • Team Bush: $5.4 million ($5 million from the Right to Rise Super PAC, $400K from the campaign)
  • Team Kasich: $4.9 million (all in New Hampshire)
  • Team Clinton: $4.1 million (all from the campaign)
  • Team Rubio: $3.9 million (all from the outside group Conservative Solutions)
  • Team Christie $2.9 million (all in New Hampshire)
  • Team Jindal: $2.5 million (all in Iowa)

By contrast, these are the campaigns/outside groups who aren’t spending – or who barely have:

  • Team Trump: $0
  • Team Sanders: $0
  • Team Fiorina: $3,315
  • Team Carson: $400,000

The Kasich vs. Jindal comparison is striking. Kasich has spent nearly $5 million in TV ads (all in New Hampshire), and he’s gone up in the polls. Jindal and his supporters have spent $2.5 million (all in Iowa), and he really hasn’t. As for the Bush spending, ALL of it has come this month, with $2.3 million coming this week alone. The right time to judge whether the money is working or not is in about a month. It took Kasich about a month of advertising to start seeing results in New Hampshire, let’s check in around Nov. 1 to see how much of a difference money is making for Jeb in the early states.

*** Questions to ask as the 3rd fundraising quarter comes to an end: Speaking of money, today is the end of the 3rd fundraising quarter in the presidential race, though the filing deadline isn’t until Oct. 15. (And trust us, we might get releases in the next 48 hours from campaigns with a good story to tell.) Here are some of the questions we have: Could Bernie Sanders outraise Hillary Clinton for the quarter? And who will have more cash on hand among those two Democrats? Who will lead the GOP fundraising race for the quarter – Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, someone else? (Most folks assume Carson will be the big winner of the quarter.) Who will have the better quarter between these two candidates – Jeb or Marco Rubio? And did Carly Fiorina get any bump at all after what was a disappointing 2nd quarter report for her? And of Christie, Paul and Cruz, which one shows some financial staying power?

*** Recalling the 2nd quarter numbers: By the way, here is where the money race stood at the end of the 2nd quarter (June 30) just for the campaigns:

  • Clinton: $47.5 million
  • Sanders: $15.2 million
  • Bush: $11.4 million
  • Cruz: $10 million (plus $4 million he raised from the 1st quarter)
  • Rubio: $8.9 million (plus $3.2 million transfer from his Senate account in the 1st quarter)
  • Carson: $8.5 million (plus $1.7 million he raised from the 1st quarter)
  • Paul: $6.9 million
  • Graham: $3.7 million
  • Huckabee: $2.0 million
  • O’Malley: $2.0 million
  • Trump: $1.9 million
  • Fiorina: $1.7 million
  • Santorum: $608,000
  • Jindal: $579,000
  • Pataki: $256,000

*** If Biden gets in, he’d have some serious catching up to do: Given these money numbers – for both the 2nd and 3rd quarters – they’re another reason why Vice President Joe Biden doesn’t have forever to wait if he wants to run. He’d be starting at least two fundraising quarters behind the rest of the field. And he would be starting behind TWO Democratic campaigns who likely have raised more than a combined $100 million already.
 
*** Per NBC/WSJ/Telemundo oversample, Trump certainly isn’t winning the Latino vote: Here are a final set of numbers to chew on, per our new NBC/WSJ/Telemundo oversample of Latinos. And here’s the bottom line: Latinos don’t like Donald Trump at all:

  • Obama 59%-21% fav/unfav score (+38)
  • Clinton 53%-24% (+29)
  • Democratic Party 48%-19% (+29)
  • Biden 43%-14% (+29)
  • Sanders 30%-12% (+18)
  • Fiorina 18%-13% (+5)
  • Carson 19%-16% (+3)
  • Bush 29%-27% (+2)
  • Republican Party 24%-43% (-19)
  • Trump 11%-72% (-61)

Some of the other numbers from the NBC/WSJ/Telemundo poll: Obama’s approval rating among Latino stands at 62%; Dems lead the GOP on the generic presidential ballot by 27 points, 51%-24%; both Hillary and Biden lead Trump in hypothetical matchups by more than 50 points; and both Hillary and Biden lead Bush by more than 20 points.

*** Paul vs. Ted Cruz: Meanwhile, Rand Paul had some surprisingly harsh (and well, according to many who understand the Senate, honest) words for fellow Republican senator – and presidential candidate – Ted Cruz on Fox News Radio yesterday, per NBC’s Frank Thorp. “He is pretty much done for and stifled, and it’s really because of personal relationships, or lack of personal relationships, and it is a problem,” Paul said on Fox News Radio’s “Kilmeade & Friends.” More Paul: “Ted has chosen to make this really personal and chosen to call people dishonest in leadership and call them names which really goes against the decorum and also against the rules of the Senate, and as a consequence he can’t get anything done legislatively.” Our take: You can tell who is interested in remaining in the Senate after this presidential contest – and who isn’t.

*** Hillary comes out against “Cadillac Tax” in health-care law: In the Democratic race, NBC News confirmed the report by The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman that Hillary Clinton will join the effort to scrap the so-called “Cadillac Tax” in the federal health-care law. “Mrs. Clinton’s campaign aides informed Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, of her intentions in the last few days,” the Times reported. “The union made an early endorsement of Mrs. Clinton in July. Many of the union’s members would be affected by the Cadillac tax, which imposes taxes on pricey employer-based coverage plans whose premiums exceed $10,200 a year for individuals and $27,500 for families. The tax is imposed on employers, who can avoid it by reducing benefits to their workers. Its purpose is to help rein in health care costs over all.” Pure and simple, this is a labor play by Clinton (Sanders has already proposed scrapping the Cadillac Tax). But here’s our question to Clinton, Sanders, and labor: How will make up for the cost containment? Everyone wants the goodies in the health-care law, but few want to eat the broccoli. By the way, IF Biden gets into the Dem race, this is another issue that could be awkward for him (Keystone, TPP, Syria policy, now Cadillac Tax).

*** McCarthy letting the Benghazi cat out of the bag? Likely Speaker-to-be Kevin McCarthy to FOX News: “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would’ve known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.” McCarthy’s statement reads as if the motivation for the committee was to take Clinton down politically, rather than getting to the bottom of the Benghazi incident and the policy. Guessing there will be a bit of a walk back or clarification sometime today.  If not, the committee’s credibility is going to take a hit.

*** Trump’s tax plan costs $12 trillion (!!!): Per MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin, we now have a price tag on Donald Trump’s tax plan – and it’s an astronomical $12 TRILLION over 10 years. “Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s tax plan would cost an eye-popping $12 trillion over 10 years, according a new estimate [by the conservative Tax Foundation] that runs directly counter to the billionaire’s pledge not to increase the deficit with the proposal.”

*** Nikki Haley’s approval rating remains at 55%, but her support changes: Finally, don’t miss these new poll numbers for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley after the Confederate flag’s removal from the state House grounds. “Gov. Nikki Haley, who has received national praise for calling for the flag’s removal, saw her approval rating unchanged from Winthrop’s February poll at 55 percent. But the potential vice presidential pick lost some backing from fellow S.C. Republicans. Haley received a thumbs up from 68 percent of Republicans in the latest poll, but that was down from 78 percent from February.” That means she’s getting more support from Democrats and independents – but less support from Republicans. Interesting – especially for whomever the eventual GOP nominee is as they begin their search for a running mate. 

OFF TO THE RACES: Priebus vs. Iowa and New Hampshire?

Reince Priebus has stirred up a fight with backers of early nomination contests in New Hampshire and Iowa, saying “I don’t think there should ever be any sacred cows as to the primary process or the order.”

Reaction from the Union Leader here.

BUSH: NBC’s Jordan Frasier reports on Bush’s big energy rollout.

He picked up  top Scott Walker fundraiser Anthony Scaramucci.

CHRISTIE: He nabbed some big endorsements in Iowa. Does it mean that he might have a moment there? NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell and Danny Freeman report.

CLINTON: It’s official: She’s proposing to scrap Obamacare’s so-called ‘Cadillac tax.’

Kevin McCarthy to FOX News: “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would’ve known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.”

“A coalition of deep-pocketed liberal groups ― including a pair of super PACs backing Hillary Clinton ― has been meeting quietly for months, examining the 2016 map and plotting attacks against the powerful Koch brothers’ network.

At midday Thursday, the architect of that effort, Clinton antagonist-turned-enforcer David Brock, is scheduled to present his findings ― complete with the back-up polling and research ― to the Senate Democratic Caucus, sources tell POLITICO.”

FIORINA: She’s on the Hill today to meet with GOP members and chiefs of staff.

RUBIO: He guest Skimm’d and laid out his strengths (“I believe what I stand for”) and weaknesses (when he’s passionate about an issue, he rushes the explanation.)

TRUMP: PEOPLE magazine gives the Trumps the “at home with the family” treatment. “I just don’t have the time that I would love to spend with my children and my wife,” he says. “I see less of my grandchildren than I might like. But they get how important this is.”

An outside tax group says that Trump’s tax proposal will cost a whopping $12 trillion.

Forbes pegs his net worth at about $4.5 billion. Trump disputes that number.

And around the country…

A new Winthrop poll in South Carolina finds that Gov. Nikki Haley’s approval rating remains stable, but the makeup of her supporters has changed. From the poll: “Governor Nikki Haley, who strongly urged legislators to take down the Confederate battle flag, has a 55% approval rating, nearly identical to her overall approval rating in March. Among Republicans and those who lean Republican, her approval rating is a strong 68%; however, this is lower than the 78% she garnered from GOP supporters among the general population in March.”

CONGRESS: GOP vs. Planned Parenthood

Here’s a wrap of Planned Parenthood in the spotlight on the Hill, from NBC’s Andrew Rafferty.

Luke Russert has some #realtalk about how much can really get done before the end of Boehner’s tenure as Speaker.

POLITICO notes that Kevin McCarthy doesn’t have strong ties to K Street.

The Washington Post has the latest on the leadership race, including the meaning behind the short Trey Gowdy boomlet.

The New York Times delves into McConnell’s relationship with Boehner: “Now, faced with defending Republican seats in a presidential election year in such potentially difficult states as Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Mr. McConnell is convinced that Republicans must avoid disruptions that can make them look incapable of governing. Given the legislative uncertainty in the aftermath of Mr. Boehner’s retirement, Mr. McConnell is hoping for one more act with the speaker, by pushing with Mr. Boehner to resolve some pressing issues before he exits at the end of October.”

And more, from The Wall Street Journal: “Republican leaders, seeking to avoid repeated fiscal crises, have opened discussions with President Barack Obama about a two-year budget deal, aiming to avoid a spending fight in the middle of an election year. The preliminary talks are geared at finding a way around discretionary spending caps outlined in a 2011 budget law that many lawmakers see as draconian. Struggles over the size of government have been one of the main tensions in the GOP, pitting fiscal conservatives against pragmatists who want to boost military spending and are willing to negotiate with Democrats to do so.”

OBAMA AGENDA: Putin Watch

“President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, in the latest step in his dispute with the West over the crisis in Syria, sought and won approval from the upper house of Parliament on Wednesday to use military force abroad,” writes The New York Times.

From the AP: “In a potential major shift in policy, U.S. military commanders want to keep at least a few thousand American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016, citing a fragile security situation highlighted by the Taliban’s capture of the northern city of Kunduz this week as well as recent militant inroads in the south.”

Kentucky clerk Kim Davis says that she met with Pope Francis; a Vatican spokesman neither confirmed nor denied the meeting. 

NBC News’ Mark Murray and Carrie Dann contributed to this article.

Ben Carson, Bernie Sanders, Campaign Finance, Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Money and Polling

More TV ad money, more problems