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First Read: More (TV Ad) Money, More Problems

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(FILES)US currency is seen in this January 30, 2011 file photo in Manassas, Virginia. US consumers spent less than expected last month despite seeing a rise in earnings, government data showed November 23, 2011, as businesses also trimmed large orders amid the threat of a global slowdown. US consumer spending increased 0.1 percent in October, much less than the 0.3 percent rate economists expected. But it was not for a lack of cash. Americans' income rose by just over $48 billion, after a mild drop the month before, while prices fell slightly. Most consumers opted to bank those savings rather than go on a spending spree ahead of the US holiday season. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images) KAREN BLEIER / AFP - Getty Images

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.

Hey, big spenders -- it hasn’t helped your poll numbers just yet

How much does money matter in the current presidential contest? So far, not that much -- at least in terms of those who have spent the most on TV ads. Indeed, with a few exceptions, our list of the biggest spenders in the TV ad wars looks like an INVERSE to the current polling, according to the latest ad-spending data by NBC partner SMG Delta:

  • Team Bush: $5.4 million ($5 million from the Right to Rise Super PAC, $400K from the campaign)
  • Team Kasich: $4.9 million (all in New Hampshire)
  • Team Clinton: $4.1 million (all from the campaign)
  • Team Rubio: $3.9 million (all from the outside group Conservative Solutions)
  • Team Christie $2.9 million (all in New Hampshire)
  • Team Jindal: $2.5 million (all in Iowa)

By contrast, these are the campaigns/outside groups who aren’t spending – or who barely have:

  • Team Trump: $0
  • Team Sanders: $0
  • Team Fiorina: $3,315
  • Team Carson: $400,000

The Kasich vs. Jindal comparison is striking.

Kasich has spent nearly $5 million in TV ads (all in New Hampshire), and he’s gone up in the polls. Jindal and his supporters have spent $2.5 million (all in Iowa), and he really hasn’t. As for the Bush spending, ALL of it has come this month, with $2.3 million coming this week alone. The right time to judge whether the money is working or not is in about a month. It took Kasich about a month of advertising to start seeing results in New Hampshire, let’s check in around Nov. 1 to see how much of a difference money is making for Jeb in the early states.

Questions to ask as the 3rd fundraising quarter comes to an end

Speaking of money, today is the end of the 3rd fundraising quarter in the presidential race, though the filing deadline isn’t until Oct. 15. (And trust us, we might get releases in the next 48 hours from campaigns with a good story to tell.) Here are some of the questions we have: Could Bernie Sanders outraise Hillary Clinton for the quarter? And who will have more cash on hand among those two Democrats? Who will lead the GOP fundraising race for the quarter -- Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, someone else? (Most folks assume Carson will be the big winner of the quarter.) Who will have the better quarter between these two candidates -- Jeb or Marco Rubio? And did Carly Fiorina get any bump at all after what was a disappointing 2nd quarter report for her? And of Christie, Paul and Cruz, which one shows some financial staying power?

Recalling the 2nd quarter numbers

By the way, here is where the money race stood at the end of the 2nd quarter (June 30) just for the campaigns:

  • Clinton: $47.5 million
  • Sanders: $15.2 million
  • Bush: $11.4 million
  • Cruz: $10 million (plus $4 million he raised from the 1st quarter)
  • Rubio: $8.9 million (plus $3.2 million transfer from his Senate account in the 1st quarter)
  • Carson: $8.5 million (plus $1.7 million he raised from the 1st quarter)
  • Paul: $6.9 million
  • Graham: $3.7 million
  • Huckabee: $2.0 million
  • O’Malley: $2.0 million
  • Trump: $1.9 million
  • Fiorina: $1.7 million
  • Santorum: $608,000
  • Jindal: $579,000
  • Pataki: $256,000

If Biden gets in, he’d have some serious catching up to do

Given these money numbers -- for both the 2nd and 3rd quarters -- they’re another reason why Vice President Joe Biden doesn’t have forever to wait if he wants to run. He’d be starting at least two fundraising quarters behind the rest of the field. And he would be starting behind TWO Democratic campaigns who likely have raised more than a combined $100 million already.

Per NBC/WSJ/Telemundo oversample, Trump certainly isn’t winning the Latino vote

Here are a final set of numbers to chew on, per our new NBC/WSJ/Telemundo oversample of Latinos. And here’s the bottom line: Latinos don’t like Donald Trump at all:

  • Obama 59%-21% fav/unfav score (+38)
  • Clinton 53%-24% (+29)
  • Democratic Party 48%-19% (+29)
  • Biden 43%-14% (+29)
  • Sanders 30%-12% (+18)
  • Fiorina 18%-13% (+5)
  • Carson 19%-16% (+3)
  • Bush 29%-27% (+2)
  • Republican Party 24%-43% (-19)
  • Trump 11%-72% (-61)

Some of the other numbers from the NBC/WSJ/Telemundo poll: Obama’s approval rating among Latino stands at 62%; Dems lead the GOP on the generic presidential ballot by 27 points, 51%-24%; both Hillary and Biden lead Trump in hypothetical matchups by more than 50 points; and both Hillary and Biden lead Bush by more than 20 points.

Paul vs. Ted Cruz

Meanwhile, Rand Paul had some surprisingly harsh (and well, according to many who understand the Senate, honest) words for fellow Republican senator -- and presidential candidate -- Ted Cruz on Fox News Radio yesterday, per NBC’s Frank Thorp. "He is pretty much done for and stifled, and it’s really because of personal relationships, or lack of personal relationships, and it is a problem," Paul said on Fox News Radio’s “Kilmeade & Friends.” More Paul: "Ted has chosen to make this really personal and chosen to call people dishonest in leadership and call them names which really goes against the decorum and also against the rules of the Senate, and as a consequence he can’t get anything done legislatively.” Our take: You can tell who is interested in remaining in the Senate after this presidential contest -- and who isn’t.

Hillary comes out against “Cadillac Tax” in health-care law

In the Democratic race, NBC News confirmed the report by the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman that Hillary Clinton will join the effort to scrap the so-called “Cadillac Tax” in the federal health-care law. “Mrs. Clinton’s campaign aides informed Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, of her intentions in the last few days,” the Times reported. “The union made an early endorsement of Mrs. Clinton in July. Many of the union’s members would be affected by the Cadillac tax, which imposes taxes on pricey employer-based coverage plans whose premiums exceed $10,200 a year for individuals and $27,500 for families. The tax is imposed on employers, who can avoid it by reducing benefits to their workers. Its purpose is to help rein in health care costs over all.” Pure and simple, this is a labor play by Clinton (Sanders has already proposed scrapping the Cadillac Tax). But here’s our question to Clinton, Sanders, and labor: How will make up for the cost containment? Everyone wants the goodies in the health-care law, but few want to eat the broccoli. By the way, IF Biden gets into the Dem race, this is another issue that could be awkward for him (Keystone, TPP, Syria policy, now Cadillac Tax).

McCarthy letting the Benghazi cat out of the bag?

Likely Speaker-to-be Kevin McCarthy to FOX News: "Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would’ve known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen." McCarthy’s statement reads as if the motivation for the committee was to take Clinton down politically, rather than getting to the bottom of the Benghazi incident and the policy. Guessing there will be a bit of a walk back or clarification sometime today. If not, the committee’s credibility is going to take a hit.

Trump’s tax plan costs $12 trillion (!!!)

Per MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin, we now have a price tag on Donald Trump’s tax plan -- and it’s an astronomical $12 TRILLION over 10 years. “Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s tax plan would cost an eye-popping $12 trillion over 10 years, according a new estimate [by the conservative Tax Foundation] that runs directly counter to the billionaire’s pledge not to increase the deficit with the proposal.”

Nikki Haley’s approval rating remains at 55%, but her support changes

Finally, don’t miss these new poll numbers for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley after the Confederate flag’s removal from the state House grounds. “Gov. Nikki Haley, who has received national praise for calling for the flag’s removal, saw her approval rating unchanged from Winthrop’s February poll at 55 percent. But the potential vice presidential pick lost some backing from fellow S.C. Republicans. Haley received a thumbs up from 68 percent of Republicans in the latest poll, but that was down from 78 percent from February.” That means she’s getting more support from Democrats and independents – but less support from Republicans. Interesting -- especially for whomever the eventual GOP nominee is as they begin their search for a running mate.

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