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Jeb Bush's operation appears to have set $32.5 million on fire

Jeb Bush's operation has spent an incredible amount of money already during this campaign — to no apparent effect.

According to ad-buying data from SMG Delta, posted by Mark Murray of NBC News, Bush's Super PAC and campaign have already spent a massive $32.5 million on ads in total — far, far more than the operation of any other GOP candidate.

In fact, Team Bush's spending is twice as much as the combined money spent on ads for the top four GOP candidates in the polls — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson. Yet Bush remains in the low single digits in polls nationally and in early states.

Check out this graphic of SMG Delta's numbers showing how little apparent relation there is between ad spending and poll numbers:

Javier Zarracina / Vox

Of course, most of this advertising money has been spent on early states like Iowa and New Hampshire, not on nationwide ad buys — so we wouldn't necessarily expect it to affect national polls.

Yet early state polling numbers are barely different. The top four candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire polls are the same as the national top four, according to the HuffPost Pollster and RealClearPolitics averages. (They are Trump, Cruz, and Carson, who have all spent very little on ads, and Rubio, whose dark money operation, Super PAC, and campaign have combined for $13.1 million so far.)

In New Hampshire, there may be some small ad impact among the second tier. Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich, whose operations have each spent $7 million or more on ads overall (and much of that in New Hampshire), are each running a few points ahead of where they are nationally. But that's not saying much — they're all stuck with just single-digit support.

It's clearly Bush, though, who sticks out for spending the most and getting the least for it. In fact, the Washington Post's Matea Gold reported Wednesday that Bush's Super PAC has actually spent nearly $50 million in total so far — and, amazingly enough, still has around $67 million in the bank.

We might not expect that extra money to do Jeb Bush any good. But it is worth noting that the millions spent so far have almost all been on positive ads. Perhaps negative attack ads will do more to hurt the numbers of Bush's rivals. Indeed, Right to Rise USA began running a negative ad that briefly attacks Trump, Cruz, and Rubio this week — and, according to a report by Politico's Eli Stokols and Marc Caputo, the group's top adviser, Mike Murphy, has been "suggesting" that he'll use the remaining cash to "carpet bomb" Bush's opponents. If he does so, we'll see if it has any impact.

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