As tea party darling Ted Cruz scored enough votes to prompt a runoff in the Texas Republican primary race for U.S. Senate last night, his campaign was ready with a runoff related fundraising effort on Twitter and Facebook. But throughout the initial leg of the campaign, Cruz - a Cuban-American backed by several big conservative names including Sarah Palin - got hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of online ad support from conservative Super PACs.
Together, three advocacy groups spent around $125,000 on web ads supporting Cruz. Anti-tax organization Club for Growth spent the most on web ads and related digital media to prop up Cruz's campaign: over $80,000 in total during May. Part of that money appears to have gone towards a microsite attacking Cruz's main opponent, Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. Linked from Google search ads targeted to searches for Dewhurst, the microsite proclaims, "David Dew-Hurt Texas."
Data in this story is based on analysis by ClickZ Politics of Federal Election Commission filings showing independent expenditures reported between the beginning of January and today.
Dewhurst will now battle Cruz in a runoff election. New ads up since the runoff from Coalition of Americans for Political Equality PAC state, "We have more work to do," and link to VoteTedCruz.org, which highlights the #VoteCruz Twitter hashtag. The most recent FEC filing from the organization shows CAPE PAC owed Google nearly $50,000 through the end of March, though it is not clear how much the group has spent on digital ads to help Cruz.
Meanwhile, at least one outside group spent online to oppose Cruz. Texas Conservatives Fund has run display ads opposing him. "Ted Cruz a conservative? No way!" declares an online display ad mirroring a TV ad from the organization. The ad links to a video spot suggesting that Cruz is hardly conservative, and worked for a law firm that "contributed over $200,000 to elect Barack Obama."
It's not clear how much Texas Conservatives Fund has spent in its Cruz web attack; however the organization in May paid around $30,000 to VM Foundry, a digital marketing firm based in Austin, Texas.
Of course, the Cruz camp itself also has run ads online including on YouTube and Google. Cruz campaign profile images on Twitter and Facebook read "On to the Runoff." The campaign last night challenged 10 Facebook and 20 Twitter supporters to donate $5 before midnight.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
March 19, 2014