Unless you are living in a cave without electricity in a completely isolated part of the world, you probably know this past Tuesday, March 1 was Super Tuesday. If you are living in a cave shut off from the world, you’re missing out on one of the most entertaining elections most of us will likely see in our lifetimes. By contrast, perhaps you’re one of the luckiest humans on earth to avoid this madness. But, you’re in a cave and you can’t read this, so I should stop addressing you in vain.
Anyway, Super Tuesday is a pivotal milestone in the race to the White House. It’s the day when the greatest number of states holds Republican primaries and Democratic caucuses. Historically, the big winners on Super Tuesday go on to secure the presidential nomination later in the year. This year, Hillary Clinton won 7/11 Democratic caucuses and Donald Trump, too, won 7/11 of the Republican primaries. Courtesy of the New York Times, see the full results below.
How the Candidates Spent Programmatically Before Super Tuesday
As we’ve done with key periods in the race, we examined candidate and PAC spend in the week leading up to Super Tuesday. Compared to the week before Nevada/South Carolina (February 14-February 20), from February 24-March 1:
- Two candidates and one PAC increased spend. Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, and Rubio-backing PAC Conservative Solutions increased spend the week before Super Tuesday. Hillary’s spent was 115% over the pre-Nevada period, while Rubio and Conservative Solutions doubled spend. Rubio and Cruz have battled over the second-place spot after Trump since the primaries began, and we think Rubio hoped Super Tuesday would be a chance for him to decisively pull ahead of Cruz and win some delegates from Republican frontrunner Trump.
- Hillary spent the most and bought the most impressions. Hillary Clinton’s campaign increased spend 115% over the period before the Democratic Caucus in Nevada. As the frontrunner for the Democratic party (she’s secured 1,058 delegates, compared to Sanders’ 431), Super Tuesday was likely the most important day of the race to date for her. She reinforced her primary advertising channels with programmatic during the build up to Super Tuesday. The relationship between spend and impressions confirms she employed the same programmatic strategy we’ve seen her embrace since the beginning – she is buying scores of less expensive impressions as a means to blanket the web with her message and get her ads in front of as many eyeballs as possible.
- The campaigns for Ted Cruz and John Kasich decreased spend most significantly. Ted Cruz spent ten times less in the week before Super Tuesday than he did in the week before South Carolina. After spending the most of the candidates from February 14 – 20, Cruz spent the least this week. John Kasich still hangs on in the race, which is commendable, but he too has scaled his spend way back– he spent the second least of all of the candidates before Super Tuesday and decreased spend 81%.
- Ted Cruz has adopted the Clinton Blanket Strategy. Sure, he spent the least of all candidates this past week, but he made his dollars work. He bought more impressions than Bernie, Rubio, and Kasich. And cheap impressions at that – his average CPM for the week was lowest in the race at $1.42.
- Carson was out of it. We saw zero spend from Ben Carson and Rubio-backing PAC Right to Rise this week. We predicted last week that Carson would drop out of the race at any moment and sure enough, on March 2, 2016 “in light of … Super Tuesday primary results,” he announced that he’s done with the race. He also didn’t spend before Nevada and South Carolina, so the Carson campaign stayed on until after Super Tuesday in case he pulled out some very surprising victories.
How the Candidates Approached Geo-Targeting Before Super Tuesday
In the week before Super Tuesday, a handful of candidates targeted users by state. See the graph below for share of spend by state. Note that three of the 11 Super Tuesday states are not represented in the graph, as spend wasn’t significant in those states. Here’s what’s interesting:
- Bernie Sanders spent the most in key regions. Despite spending less overall, the Sanders campaign spent the most of all candidates within the 11 states. He spent 6.3x more than Hillary in Massachusetts and nearly clinched the victory there, winning 49% of the vote to Hillary’s 50%. Another choice state for Sanders spend was Texas, where the campaign spent doubled Hillary’s Texas spend.
- Hillary Clinton’s campaign targeted Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia. The Clinton campaign spent the most in Texas, followed closely by Virginia. Clinton was hungry for impressions in Texas, a state where she won and gained 145 delegate votes. A third of the impressions she won in the Super Tuesday states were served to users in Texas.
- Stand for Truth stood for Cruz in Georgia and Virginia. The Cruz campaign spent very little in the week before Super Tuesday and directed most of its spend to users in his home state of Texas. Stand for Truth employed geo-targeting and spent a good deal more than the Cruz campaign, however, the PAC focused on Georgia and Virginia, and the amount it spent there was higher than any of the candidates or PACs spend in any one of the Super Tuesday states.