Cruz's campaign is still celebrating its Iowa win, after waging one of the best run ground operations so far this cycle. The campaign has raised $20.5M this quarter, ranking 2nd in fundraising, only behind Carson, who hauled in $22.6M. This comes as no surprise, given the well-organized campaign infrastructure the Texas senator has rolled out over the course of the race. What does come as a surprise is the unexpectedly low fundraising figures reported by Cruz’s main super PAC, Keep the Promise.
In the first half of 2015, the organization put up solid numbers ($27.4M) and showed promise of becoming a major player in the 2016 race. Cruz had received the backing of billionaires of the likes of Robert Mercer, Richard Uihlein, Toby Neugebauer and the Ricketts family, to name a few.
However, as the FEC updates came in over the weekend, most were surprised to see that Keep the Promise raised a meager $741K in the second half of the year. But perhaps the most interesting twist is that the PAC hasn’t raised money because it hasn’t spent a lot of money. In fact, only recently have they even hired a professional fundraiser. As it turns out, the biggest ad buy the super PAC had planned ended up being aborted, after an ad buy by the Rubio campaign raised prices in South Carolina.
There are two competing theories on why this is happening. Some speculate that this is all intentional, and that the super PAC is biding its time, saving money for later states. If true, this is certainly a coup that will benefit Cruz, as his super PAC saved its bullets in Iowa, a state that was seen as solidly pro-Cruz, and will come in strong for the real battlegrounds: New Hampshire and South Carolina.
The other theory is that there are serious issues in the way Keep the Promise is run. Cruz's campaign has demonstrated a fair amount of nervousness due to the super PAC’s lack of action. This is best evidenced by the emergence of three new pro-Cruz super PACs: Stand for Truth, The Family Leader, and Corageous Conservatives. The groups raised $2.4M since July.
If this is in fact a tactical slip-up or a case of miscommunication between the campaign and super PAC, it could prove to be a costly one for Cruz’s nomination bid. If it was intentional, we can expect a large ad buy very soon, and the campaign kicking into a new gear in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and beyond.