Ted Cruz doesn't have Donald Trump's star power, but he may make up for it by having more science—data science—behind his campaign.
The Cruz campaign, almost from the very start, made significant investments in voter data, analytics, and targeting. The campaign spent more than $10 million in those areas during 2015, based on new regulatory filings to the Federal Election Commission.
The spending picked up dramatically in the last quarter of the year, when Cruz was trailing Trump by wide margins in the polls. The Cruz campaign paid out $7.2 million in fees for data and analytics in the fourth quarter, while the Trump campaign paid out just $738,517.
Trump has relied on constant TV coverage of his campaign by Fox News and others, and on his popularity on social media, to get his face and message in front of prospective voters. The polls suggest that it's worked beautifully, but some experts wonder if it will be enough to move supporters to caucus for him in Iowa on Monday night.
Social media and TV have been a challenge for the less-showy Cruz, which may be why that campaign has gone all-in with high-tech targeting and data crunching.
Much of the money Cruz paid out in 2015 was spent on voter-list rental or paid to analytics companies that look for patterns in demographics data and offer advice on targeted media buys.
Cruz and company paid out $3.3 million to the Arlington, Virginia-based direct marketing firm The Lukens Company for voter "list rental." The Alexandria, Virginia-based e-donations and targeting tech company Campaign Solutions was also paid just over $3 million for fundraising tech and list rental.
The campaign also paid out $3.8 million to a relative newcomer to the voter targeting space, Cambridge Analytica. The company, whose technology roots go back to military "psy-ops" research, provides a method of analyzing the personality types of voters to determine which political messages might move them to action.
The Jeb Bush campaign spent roughly $800,000 in the fourth quarter on data and analytics. Marco Rubio spent about $450,000.
The Trump campaign, meanwhile, has spent more on baseball caps than it has on voter data and analytics. The campaign was well into the fourth quarter of 2015 before it paid the Washington-based company L2 $235,000 to license its voter data.
The new Federal Election Commission filings also confirm that Trump hired two ex-Republican National Committee data operatives to work with the L2 data. One of them, Matt Ciepielowski, earned $44,277 in the fourth quarter. The other, Witold Chrabaszcz, was paid $4,384 for his services in the same quarter.
In the third quarter of 2015, Politico reports, the Trump campaign rented a voter list from Newsmax Media for $200,000, and paid the GOP digital firm Targeted Victory $47,000 for fundraising software. And that's it.
As for those "Make America Great Again" hats, Politico pegs Trump's spend at $450,000 in the fourth quarter alone.