About last night ...First of all, please note that while we’re hardly ecstatic about last night’s results, we are pleased with data we got back from the one state in which we played yesterday: Virginia.
Note that as it stands, Donald Trump is taking a whopping ONE DELEGATE MORE out of the Old Dominion than Marco Rubio. ONE.
This is when the RCP average had him winning the state by nearly 15 points heading into yesterday's voting. It’s pretty clear as a result that combined anti-Trump efforts worked to prevent Trump from accruing huge numbers of delegates here, though it would have been nice if we could have eked out an extra 3 percent or so and deprived him of the “victory” narrative.
Second, note that Make America Awesome concentrated our spending in Virgil Goode’s old district, and yes, we specifically did see positive indicators from last night. Why did we concentrate on that area? Goode endorsed Trump, and as an elected official, Goode had a lot of common features with Trump as a presidential candidate. He was an ex-Southern Democrat (Trump is essentially campaigning as a neb-southern Democrat). He was very, very vocal about immigration and Muslims (ditto Trump). He had appeal to less educated, less well-off, less traditionally conservative white voters (ditto Trump).
Our expectation was that Trump would slaughter everyone in every part of this old district, except perhaps immediately around Charlottesville, and to try to ramp down Trump’s numbers with voters who would naturally be in his camp, while we spent across the area, two areas in which we concentrated ads deliberately were Bedford and Albemarle.
Rubio won Albemarle.
Note that per CNN’s tally of the results, Trump got just 35 percent in Bedford, beating Ted Cruz by just 5 points. That is a much better result than what we expected.
Note that in our targeted part of Virginia, we also received feedback from local talk radio immediately upon sending our ad through to them that our “Real Trump Record” ad was exactly the message that would work with with their audience, from whom they take calls and get emails all day long.
Now, I’m not naive or crazy enough to claim that we were the major player in delivering this result (especially as we do nothing that is pro- any candidate, Rubio or otherwise, and as we spent less in Virginia than in Iowa, where we had a clear and obvious impact). However, it’s clear that anti-Trump efforts in Virginia -- including ours -- did pay off, especially when viewed through the prism of preventing Trump from taking vast swathes of delegates on offer.
Just something to think about as you’re processing last night’s events and results. Bottom line: Attacks on Trump do work. Our attacks are persuasive with voters who should and do naturally form his base. The issues here are money and time. What we are doing is running out of time and donations.
That leads me to the next thing ... where we go from here...
Forward, is the short answer. I have yet to have an interaction with any of our donors where they've said "give up, stand down." And as long as you're with us, we're here to do what you want us to do: Help stop Trump.
We will next be investing in Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois -- three states where, thanks to media market demarcations, we believe we can have an outsized impact with the still small sums we have to spend.
Our immediate plan is to keep doing what we have been doing: Try to block Trump, and to the extent that is not possible, spend to prevent him from racking up even one more delegate than he need accrue.
Think of it this way: Each delegate we deprive Trump of is one less T-shirt wearing "Stop White Genocide" or "God Bless The KKK" on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Note that we are also starting to formulate plans for what happens if we head into a contested convention or, God forbid, Trump gets enough delegates to become the GOP nominee. We still believe, and the numbers indicate, that he is stoppable. But everyone needs to move now, and move fast.
And if you haven't already, click here to sign our petition to CPAC, asking them to disinvite Donald Trump from speaking there.
Liz Mair is a communications expert, new media adviser, political consultant and blogger. She currently is strategist for Make America Awesome, a SuperPAC dedicated to blocking and reversing Donald Trump’s political ascent.