The main super PAC supporting Senator Tim Scott’s presidential campaign abruptly announced to donors in a memo that it was canceling millions of dollars in television ads it had reserved this fall, writing that Donald J. Trump’s strength was so ingrained among Republican voters that additional advertising would currently make little difference.
“We aren’t going to waste our money when the electorate isn’t focused or ready for a Trump alternative,” Rob Collins, a Republican strategist who is a co-chairman of the super PAC, wrote in the blunt memo to donors that was circulated on Monday. “We have done the research. We have studied the focus groups. We have been following Tim on the trail. This electorate is locked up and money spent on mass media isn’t going to change minds until we get a lot closer to voting.”
A copy of the memo was obtained by The New York Times.
The super PAC, called the Trust in Mission PAC, or TIMPAC, has been one of the largest advertisers in the race, spending roughly $5 million in Iowa alone this year. Mr. Scott’s poll numbers have hardly budged, however, and Mr. Trump remains far ahead.
In addition to the super PAC, Mr. Scott’s campaign had also spent aggressively on television advertising.
It’s not clear exactly how much the super PAC is canceling, though it could be $15 million or more. The group, according to data from AdImpact, has roughly $10 million reserved in just the next six weeks.
“We are doing what would be obvious in the business world but will mystify politicos,” Mr. Collins wrote in the memo.
The super PAC is likely to begin paying for some of Mr. Scott’s events as part of a move that was described as shifting resources elsewhere.
The decision to cancel the ads and begin paying for some of Mr. Scott’s events comes a day after Mr. Scott revealed the deteriorating state of his campaign’s finances, which showed swelling spending and shrinking receipts.
Mr. Scott had a robust $13.3 million cash on hand — including $11.6 million that can be used for the primary — but he raised only $4.6 million in the third quarter, down from $5.9 million the previous quarter. In the most recent period, Mr. Scott raised only a fraction of what former Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida pulled in, and roughly one-tenth of Mr. Trump’s haul.
He was even topped by Vivek Ramaswamy, who raised $7.4 million in the third quarter, about a third of which came from donors who gave less than $200.
Mr. Scott’s campaign has been spending freely. When Mr. Scott entered the race in May, he brought with him $22 million left over from his last Senate re-election — and he has been steadily burning through that stockpile. In July alone, the campaign spent $5.4 million. In contrast, Ms. Haley’s campaign spent $3.5 million in the entire third quarter.
Mr. Scott’s super PAC had entered July with only $15 million in cash on hand yet it soon made $40 million in television and digital reservations.
That gap raised questions about how the super PAC had secured so much money so quickly. At the center of those questions is Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle, who previously had been one of Mr. Scott’s biggest benefactors but had not yet been among those donors who had given to the super PAC in the first half of the year. The canceled ads are likely to raise more questions about what financial role Mr. Ellison is playing.
The super PAC said it would continue to spend on door-knocking programs, raising money online for Mr. Scott and holding events. The group claimed it was not giving up on the campaign entirely. Mr. Collins argued that Mr. Scott remained the “best fit” for Iowa voters and that for other campaigns and super PACs that fill the breach, “money will simply be wasted.” He wrote in the memo that two-thirds of Iowa caucusgoers will decide in the last six weeks before the caucus on Jan. 15, 2024 — not in the next six weeks.
Regardless of the rationale, the decision will be seen in political circles as all but abandoning Mr. Scott.
“Some will challenge our theory of the election,” Mr. Collins wrote, “but we would ask these critics to produce any evidence that shows any candidate, at this time, at any spending level, breaking through.”
Matt Gorman, a spokesman for Mr. Scott, said in a statement that Mr. Scott’s campaign remained “built for the long haul — powered by the most primary cash on hand and the highest candidate favorability of anyone in the field.”
He added, “On issues ranging from foreign policy to abortion, he has been the clearest and strongest voice, leading while others have followed.”