Seventy-six percent of the estimated 9,200 political attack ads that ran over the past seven days took aim at Republican presidential candidate Donald TrumpDonald TrumpClinton camp hits on Trump for comments he says he never made Poll: Trump up 4 in SC Gingrich: 'You're not supposed to gain 60 pounds' when you're Miss Universe MORE, a new study says.
A coalition of conservatives committed to stopping Trump blanketed the nation with 7,000 TV ads over the last week directly attacking him, according to figures published Tuesday by the Center of Public Integrity (CPI).
About 40 percent of the anti-Trump ads were concentrated in Florida, a March 15 winner-take-all state where Trump currently leads in the polls.
If Trump wins the Sunshine State, it would likely knock Marco RubioMarco RubioLanny Davis: Clinton a clear winner, with or without sound Could Snapchat be the digital bridge to younger voters? Koch-linked veterans group launches ads in Senate battlegrounds MORE out of the race while moving the businessman 99 delegates closer to the 1,237 he needs to win the nomination.
The Conservative Solutions PAC, which supports Rubio for president, was responsible for two-thirds of the attack ads against Trump over the last week, according to the study.
Also lending a hand was another outside group called Our Principles PAC, manned by a group of former Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush aides. It launched in January with the explicit purpose of taking down Trump.
That group has spent $8 million to date on TV ads, direct mail and voter phone calls warning against a potential Trump candidacy and drawing attention to the controversial aspects of his business record, according to CPI.
Several other groups, including a super-PAC aligned with the fiscally conservative group Club for Growth, as well as Ted CruzTed CruzHouse approves stopgap funding, averting costly shutdown Overnight Tech: TV box plan faces crucial vote | Trump transition team to meet tech groups | Growing scrutiny of Yahoo security Could Snapchat be the digital bridge to younger voters? MORE’s campaign and well-funded pro-Cruz super-PAC, are also pitching in.
Many anti-Trump conservatives believe the barrage of attacks are taking their toll.
Trump fared worse than expected in four Saturday contests, and recent polling shows the race tightening nationally, as well as in critical battleground states of Florida and Ohio.
Still, Trump has a healthy lead in delegates over Cruz, who is in second place. He is the favorite to win a majority of delegates in contests across four states on Tuesday night.
If he can hold on and pull out victories in Florida and Ohio next week, he’ll be close to sewing up the nomination.