WASHINGTON - Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign surprised many Monday when it announced it was planning to advertise in ruby red Texas before Election Day.
But how much is Clinton investing in Texas? Her campaign won't comment, but a small ad buy would suggest the campaign isn't expecting to move the needle in the country's largest Republican stronghold.
By mid-day Tuesday, Clinton's campaign had booked ads in Texas worth at most $100,000, according to a GOP source briefed on local television sales. That figure is small in any state, but the prohibitively expensive media markets in Texas further diminishes the campaign's bang for its buck.
Comparatively speaking, Clinton's camp will spend $2 million in Arizona, another traditionally Republican state.
The Texas reservations are booked for Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio from Oct. 19-25, according to that same source, along with another briefed on the purchase. Clinton's campaign announced Monday it was launching a one-week ad buy in those four cities as well as online focused on a new 30-second commercial highlighting the Dallas Morning News' recent endorsement of Clinton over Republican Donald Trump.
Ad reservations sometimes surface slowly, and the Clinton campaign could make more reservations. But the initial outlay suggests a particularly small effort to sway voters in a state as big as Texas.
"It takes millions of dollars to drive a single message across those markets," said national GOP media consultant Erik Potholm in an email. "If they are running $100k in those cities, it’s just a media hit, not designed to actually move voters."
Garry Mauro, a close Clinton friend and chairman of Texas for Hillary, would not comment on the size of the campaign's ad buy in the state but said the point of the campaign was to push the Morning News endorsement to conservatives.
"The fact is, The Dallas Morning News said Trump doesn't represent Texas values and Hillary does," he told the Tribune. "And at the end of the day, Texans are values voters, and that message is getting disseminated widely as a result of that buy."
Regardless of the size of the Clinton's campaign's ad buy, it's historically significant that a Democratic presidential candidate is spending any money in the Lone Star State in a general election season.
A Democratic presidential nominee has not carried Texas since Jimmy Carter in 1976. But with less than a month until Election Day, Clinton has far more financial resources to work with than her opponent, GOP nominee Donald Trump. Recent polling suggests several reliably Republican states are competitive this year, thanks largely to Trump's campaign turmoil fueled by series of scandals. Many political insiders are anticipating that this year's race in Texas may be the closest in decades.
Read more about Clinton's chances in Texas:
- The WFAA/SurveyUSA poll found Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton 47 percent to 43 percent, with a margin of error of 4 percent.
- Texas Democrats have pined for years for a candidate who could turn their luck around. Now they're hoping a Republican will answer their prayers.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2016/10/18/clinton-texas-television-advertising-campaign-star/.