Last night was a devastating defeat for Marco Rubio, whose big losses in the Super Tuesday II primaries caused him to drop out of the Republican race. But the scale of the disaster is even bigger when we look at the amount of money Rubio and the Republican establishment spent in the past weeks to try to stop Trump.
It shows that Trump is winning while spending incredibly little on any sort of advertising. Other candidates, like Rubio, went aggressive on advertising, only to have their efforts rebuffed by voters.
According to ad-buying data from SMG Delta, posted by Mark Murray of NBC News, Rubio's Super PAC and campaign spent a massive amount of money in several of the March 15 primary states.
For instance, in his home state of Florida Rubio spent $8.2 million, far more than the rest of candidates combined. But he only received 636,450 votes. That means he spent nearly $13 per vote.
Compare that with Donald Trump, who barely spent anything on advertising on the path to his Florida victory.
It wasn't just Rubio advertising against Trump. Several Super PACs including American Future Fund, Club for Growth, and Our Principles PAC poured another $7.4 million in anti-Trump ads. Despite all the attacks, Trump was able to claim the victory spending only $2.05 per vote.
Illinois was even worse for Rubio: He spent far more than any other Republican in the state, but he finished last with less than 9 percent of the vote. And despite $4.3 million worth of negative ads, Trump was able to win easily. He spent less than a quarter per vote in the state.
Last but not least, Missouri shows a similar (if less dramatic) story. There, Rubio spent $384,000 and earned a paltry 6 percent of the vote. The anti-Trump groups did not invest much there, leaving to Cruz the task of stopping Trump's juggernaut. But again, Trump spent less than his competitors and gained more votes.
These figures aren't quite as dramatic as some early election cycle figures, which showed Jeb Bush spending an absurd $5,000 per vote. But they do show there are limits to how much advertising can do to sway voters — and, for Rubio, those limitations were quite serious.