Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign is pulling down its television ad buys in South Carolina and moving the money plus additional funds to Nevada and Maine, a source with knowledge of the moves told HuffPost on Tuesday night.
The campaign will also start airing radio and print ads in South Carolina, and will continue to target the state with digital advertisements.
Warren has long been one of the leading contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, but her campaign has been stagnant for a week following a third-place finish behind Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg in Iowa. Warren is stuck between third and fourth place in polls both nationally and in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.
The advertising move has both short-term and long-term implications. Moving money forward to Nevada could help the Warren campaign perform better in the next state to cast its ballots. And sending money to Maine reinforces the campaign’s insistence that the race is a long battle for delegates, not a short-term fight for media attention.
Public polling in all three states is limited, though former Vice President Joe Biden’s strength with Black voters has long made him the favorite in South Carolina.
The Warren campaign, which is skeptical of traditional campaign practices, has long spent less on television ads than its rivals. The campaign was heavily outspent on the airwaves in both Iowa and New Hampshire, choosing instead to pour its money into digital advertisements and field organizing.
The shift in ad buying strategy comes on the same day Roger Lau, Warren’s campaign manager, sent a memo to supporters asserting that the Massachusetts senator remains in a strong position for Super Tuesday, when roughly one-third of the delegates to July’s Democratic National Convention will be awarded.
“After New Hampshire tonight, 98% of pledged delegates will still be up for grabs,” Lau wrote. “And as the race consolidates after Super Tuesday, we expect the results to show that Elizabeth Warren is the consensus choice of the widest coalition of Democrats in every corner of the country.”
The campaign asserted that its internal data shows Warren hitting or exceeding the 15% vote threshold necessary to receive delegates in more than two-thirds of the districts that will cast ballots on Super Tuesday, compared to 98% for Sanders and 96% for Biden.
But the other candidates, including Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar — who could both perform better than Warren in New Hampshire — are eligible to receive delegates in just a tiny number of districts, the campaign claims.
“If the early states deliver mixed results for the field, and no seismic event shakes up the top three, the remaining viable candidates for the Democratic nomination as of Super Tuesday will be Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren,” Lau wrote. “In that three-way race, Elizabeth Warren is the candidate with the highest potential ceiling of support and the one best positioned to unite the party and lead the Democratic ticket to defeat Donald Trump.”