Republican forces aligned against Donald Trump have piled on the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination just ahead of Wisconsin's primary on Tuesday.
As if a crew of conservative talk radio hosts aiming to "Stop Trump" and $1 million in ads urging Wisconsites to vote for Ted Cruz weren't enough, the anti-Trump group Our Principles PAC has also poured money into the state.
Our Principles, which was formed explicitly to help beat Mr. Trump in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination, in the last two weeks has spent nearly $2 million on TV spots, direct mail, calls to voters and digital ads, all aimed at Wisconsin voters.
Ads from Our Principles have used Mr. Trump's own words against him. One spot uses a clip of the real estate tycoon saying he'll support universal healthcare paid for by the government, and that "eminent domain is an absolute necessity."
One ad running online since late March rattles off a series of comments he's used about women, calling them "bimbo" and "pig," according to information from online ad tracker Moat Pro. Another digital display ad calls Mr. Trump "too reckless and dangerous."
Since March 23 in Wisconsin, Our Principles is accompanying $1.4 million in TV ads, which includes ad production costs, with around $315,000 in direct mail, $80,000 worth of digital ads and $50,000 in voter contact emails and phone calls, according to Federal Election Commission data analyzed by Ad Age.
Those buys are being supported by $100,000 in research by Republican data and research firms Target Point and Tarrance Group, according to the FEC data.
Our Principles has aimed the bulk of its broadcast and cable TV spending since March mostly in the Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison and La Crosse-Eau Claire areas, Kantar CMAG data shows.
The anti-tax group Club for Growth is hammering away at its own message pushing Wisconsin voters to choose Ted Cruz in order to beat Mr. Trump. The organization in late March backed its endorsement of Mr. Cruz with more than $1 million in digital and TV ads targeting voters in Wisconsin. The main message: A vote for Mr. Cruz is the only way to defeat Donald Trump.
Then there's #NeverTrump, another group born out of Mr. Trump's meteoric rise. The digital media-focused organization is also spending in Wisconsin in the hopes of squelching Trump's lead, using most of its small five-figure digital ad buy on Facebook, according to Patrick Ruffini, an adviser to #NeverTrump and partner and co-founder of Republican polling and data firm Echelon Insights.
"We consider them to be an ally," said Mr. Ruffini regarding Our Principles. The #NeverTrump group is targeting ads in the North and West of Wisconsin, mainly rural areas outside of populated spots like Milwaukee that are already receiving the bulk of the anti-Trump messaging. "We're using polling data and demographic modeling to inform where our money is going," he said.