Few could have predicted how the presidential campaign would unfold in 2015, and Donald Trump’s dominance has obviously been one of the year’s more striking developments. But it’s not just the Republican frontrunner’s lead in the polls that stands out; it’s also how Trump reached the front of the pack.
Ordinarily, there’s at least some connection between how a presidential candidate is doing and how much he or she has invested in the race. But this year, the model has been turned on its head: Jeb Bush and his allies have spent about $38 million on campaign commercials and he’s struggling badly, while Donald Trump has spent just $217,000 on ads, all of them aired on the radio, and he’s lapping the GOP field.
Fox News’ Howard Kurtz, however, reported the other day that this dynamic “is about to change.”
Sources in the Trump camp say they will soon launch a major ad blitz that could cost at least $2 million a week, and possibly several times that.The initial wave of ads will focus on Trump’s vision and his stance on key issues – no bio spots necessary for the celebrity candidate – but that could change if any GOP rivals target him with negative commercials…. The Trump camp is working with a Florida-based advertising firm, as widely reported, but also with several other media companies, some of which are well-known in the political community, the sources say.
The report, if taken at face value, raises all kinds of relevant questions. Where would the “ad blitz” air? What would the commercials look like? Given how well Trump has done so far relying on free media – i.e., news coverage – would an ad campaign help, hurt, or make no difference?
But there’s also a broader point to keep in mind: perhaps it’s best not to take the Fox report at face value.
To be sure, this kind of “blitz” would be a pretty significant development in the race – $2 million a week is significant – though I’d recommend caution.
The truth is, we’ve heard this chatter before. Indeed, not long after Trump launched his GOP campaign, the original game plan included an advertising campaign to help the candidate raise his political profile. (That turned out to be unnecessary, as you may have noticed.)
In early November, Trump added, “We’re going to start some ads, I think, over the next two days.” That was 56 days ago. Those ads never ran.
Or put another way, who knows? Maybe the talk of an “ad blitz” is real. Maybe it’s not. Perhaps this is a scheme to rattle Trump’s Republican rivals. Maybe the candidate and his team decided they weren’t getting enough attention, so they leaked this for a few more headlines.
When it comes to Team Trump, most “news” should probably be taken with a grain of salt.