Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has been the target of more than one in two dollars spent to derail a presidential candidate in the 2016 cycle, a new analysis finds.
Candidates and their backers have spent nearly $70 million targeting Trump so far, a massive sum that makes up more than half of all spending on negative ads in the 2016 race, according to a New York Times analysis of data provided by Kantar Media/CMAG. The rest of the record $132 million spent on the negative commercials was spread among dozens of other Republican candidates and the several Democrats running in what has been an unusually large 2016 field.
“You have general election foes attacking him, you have his primary foes attacking him, and you have specific groups whose whole focus in life is just to make sure that he’s not the nominee,” Elizabeth Wilner, senior vice president at Kantar Media/CMAG, told TheNYT.
Despite the steady barrage, Trump continues marching toward the Republican nomination apparently largely unscathed. His opponents spent tens of millions of dollars on a negative ad blitz in Florida leading up to the March primary, yet he beat Florida Sen. Marco Rubio by a whopping 18 points, leading Rubio to drop out of the race.
Trump’s rival Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has beaten him in two contests, early in Iowa and more recently in Wisconsin, where negative ads may have played a substantial role in his defeat.
“Negative ads are never a silver bullet,” University of San Francisco politics professor Ken Goldstein told TheNYT. He saw the ads as more effective in Wisconsin because they were paired with a more focused message in a smaller field.
“What negative ads in particular do is allow people to introduce or amplify messages that are out there with movable people,” he said.
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