CNN is reporting on the allocation of funds by the Ted Cruz campaign to the March 22 primaries. The spending gives some insights into how the three men see those primaries shaping up.
Current ad buys:
Team Cruz: $670k
Team Trump: $360k
Team Kasich: $0
Team Cruz: $420k
Team Kasich: $275k
Team Trump: $0
— Teddy Schleifer (@teddyschleifer) March 18, 2016
Let's look at the states in play.
Arizona has only had two recent polls so I won't bore you with bullsh** graphs of averages of equally bullsh** polls. I'll just give the bullsh** to you straight up:
Let's ignore the numbers and look at candidate order and rough magnitude of the votes. (In case you're wondering about the decline in all candidates in the latest poll it is due to them claiming a third of Arizona voters are undecided which is pretty much stupid.) We can assume that Cruz is actually closer to Trump than the numbers show because throughout this primary season he has outperformed polls and, in most cases, Trump has underperformed. Trump's ad buy is focused on keeping what he has. Kasich is not competing in Arizona in any measurable way. The Cruz ad buy ("Ready On Day One" and "Grant"), which will be funded at nearly 2:1 over Trump. One Ted Cruz super PAC, alone, is spending $660,000 between Arizona and Utah. These ads are aimed at pulling in Kasich voters and peeling off Trump voters. If, as rumored, Rubio endorses Cruz then Cruz is in a great position to clobber Trump in Arizona as it is a winner-take-all primary. The key factor here is that even with a very divided field, Trump's share of the vote <40%, and based on experience, probably closer to a 35%.
Utah is a caucus that is a modified winner-take-the-most system. If Cruz breaks 50% he gets 100% of the delegates. What makes this most interesting is that it is two-man race between Cruz and Kasich. Cruz's ad buy is trying to consolidate the outstanding Rubio and Bush voters to break that winner-take-all threshold. Trump isn't bothering to spend in Utah. He has a
torchlight campaign rally tonight in Salt Lake City and will get earned media from that. Kasich is trying to play the role of electoral cockblock (if it has its own Wikipedia entry it is good enough for me) by appealing to enough of the "not Trump" vote to prevent Cruz from breaking 50%.