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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

 
Cruz's Trump Card

by digby






























It's hard to know why this wouldn't show up in polling this close to the election but it's quite interesting. Betsy Woodruff is an excellent journalist who has great insight into the right wing so she may be privy things the rest of the pack is overlooking:

South Carolina, as you may know, is kind of a big deal. It has a large population—4.8 million people—and a bad reputation because it’s a place where candidates love to break out their dirtiest tricks.

Or, in the case of Ted Cruz’s super PACs, their most experimental. The cluster of well-funded super PACs boosting Cruz’s candidacy is trying out a new tactic in the Palmetto State, indicating the extent to which super PACs are encroaching on traditional campaign turf.

And it has Cruz’s rivals scared.

Said super PAC, called Keep the Promise—which is actually sub-divided into several different PACs, each funded by a different billionaire family—has blithely tossed the traditional super PAC playbook to the winds. In fact, they’ve taken on typical campaign operations: gathering voter data, targeting likely Cruz supporters, and knocking on thousands of doors to get out the vote.

The super PAC has had upwards of 250 people canvassing the state, targeting the homes of persuadable Republican voters. Thus far, they estimate they’ve knocked on more than 93,000 doors. And by Election Day, they’re shooting to have knocked on 100,000. In any given week, they say, 100 to 150 individual people spend eight-hour days doing the door-knocking. And most of them get paid.

Traditionally—to the extent that we have age-old super PAC traditions—super PACs pay for expensive TV and radio ads. Federal election law forbids them from coordinating with the campaigns they try to boost, so shelling out big bucks to produce and air TV ads has been their natural role. And that’s what most of them have done in this cycle—from a pro-Rubio super PAC running birther-esque ads ominously intimating that Cruz is darkly influenced by his Canadian roots, to the pro-Bush Right to Rise PAC, which got President George W. Bush to star in a spot boosting Jeb.

That’s the norm. Campaigns run events, corral volunteers, and staff regional offices; super PACs slap up ads.

South Carolina politicos describe it as an effective, relentless operation. And it has some of Cruz’s opponents feeling a little jittery.

“I’ll be very shocked, honestly, if Ted Cruz doesn’t win the primary,” said an operative for a rival campaign, citing Keep the Promise’s blanketing of the Upstate.
Trump has led by double digits in all the recent Palmetto State polls. But some are skeptical that his lead is really that commanding. And they point to the different ground games—particularly, to that of Keep the Promise—as evidence for their doubt.
Keep the Promise staff explained that the group has been door-knocking across the state, in a few targeted regions and counties, since last November. In early January, those door-knockers started focusing on persuasion: identifying likely Republican primary voters who favor an Evangelical Christian candidate, knocking on their doors, and having conversations aimed at persuading them to back Cruz.

“What we are doing right now is what I dreamed about doing as Scott Walker’s state director,” said Dan Tripp, who formerly helmed Walker’s South Carolina operation and now runs the show there for Keep the Promise.

South Carolina has strange gothic political practices that aren't easily discerned by the normal methods. I don't know how this plays out --- or if Trump's body slams on Cruz will have the desired effect. But it's interesting that they're doing this in any case. I don't know that anyone anticipated that Super PACS would be used for evangelical ground game.

It's another little data point that shows how the old political practices are changing in the face of Super PACS, technology, celebrity and the shrinking of power within the political parties. It's a whole new game.

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