by Jerome Armstrong, Wed Jul 30, 2008 at 08:30:55 PM EDT
The NYT's took a look at where the candidates are buying TV time, from June 3rd through July 26th. Now, watching where the candidates shift in their ad buys from the summer to the fall is always a telling measure of how the race has shifted. In 2004, for instance, Kerry was airing ads in MO in the summer, but dropped out of them by the fall. I don't expect, given the late start and the tremendous amount of money being spent, that 2008 will see candidates leave a state, but we will see shifts in the allocations.
So this will serve as a sort of benchmark.
McCain has been airing ads in 13 states since the beginning: CO, IA, MI, MO, NV, NH, NM, OH, PA, VA, MN, WV and WI. But with his recent "Celeb' ad, he's dropped MN and WV from the ad buy. I'm not sure why he was in WV to begin with, but the NYT's numbers show Obama made a investment in WV, along with ND, and McCain made one as well. It may be a border state issue (I've not looked into the media markets for WV). As for MN, now there's a first clue as to a state that McCain might be cutting his losses early. Obama is not spending anything in MN-- its considered 'turf'.
Lets look at how both campaigns are trying in other places to move onto new turf.
Obama is airing significant ads in 4 states that they are trying to move on the map, and 3 others with insignificant amounts, all of which are 00/04 red states, and which McCain is not responding. These states are FL, GA, NC, IN, and in MT, & AR.
In FL alone, Obama has spent $5M to McCain's 0, and in total, Obama is at about $10M plus in these four states (FL, GA, NC, IN), while McCain nothing to date. There was a lot of discussion about whether Obama would just throw in the towel for Florida, but he's clearly making a run for it, as he's spent more on TV in FL than any other state to date against McCain.
Then there are the red states that Obama is buying in that McCain is already buying in too, OH, VA, MO, CO, and NV. Obama has made a significant investment in VA and IN, but nothing in Kansas. If that means anything, it bodes well for the VP chances of Kaine and Bayh, and less so for Sebelius.
As for McCain, aside from the gambit in MN, he's making buys in the 00 or 04 blue states of PA, MI, WI, IA, NM, and NH. Significantly, he's spent $5M in PA, and his top three states, PA, OH, MI, a combined $8M ($14M with the RNC). McCain is really trying to put PA on the map, and Obama has responded by spending $4M in the state.
McCain's strategy in nut shell: Try to not have to play defense in the 00/04 red states of FL, GA, NC, IN, while already playing defense in the 00/04 red states of OH, VA, MO, CO, NV, and meanwhile, play offense in 00/04 blue states of WI, PA, MI, and also in the mixed red-blue 00/04 states of IA, NM, NH.
Given McCain's investment into PA, I think we have to believe he's seriously considering Ridge for his nominee. In fact, its easy to see how, from McCain's perspective, the campaign becomes all about the battleground states of MI/OH/PA. Further that, as long as they keep the states they are not airing in (FL, GA, NC, IN), while winning in MI/OH/PA, they cold lose all of the other states they are defending (VA, MO, CO, NV, IA, NM, NH), and still come out ahead 274 - 264. That's a tall order, for McCain to win in MI and PA, but I think that's where their head is based on the media buys.
For Obama, its a pretty clear shot, as long as MI and PA stay blue, and the other 04 states are blue as well, that's his base. Then, he's very strong in IA and NM, and after adding those in, he need just win any other state and he's over 270. And with that in mind, he's buying in NV, CO, MO, IN, OH, VA, GA, NC, and FL. Adding in any one of those 9 states, in this scenario, and Obama would win.