Democrats’ biggest concern isn’t the economy; it’s whether Obama has already peaked. There are numerous reasons to believe it’s true. If true, there are rapidly diminishing opportunities for the Administration to reverse it, and a growing list that could accelerate it.
Pick your poll: the presidential race is a toss-up. The latest Gallup tracking poll (taken 7/22-29, 3,050 registered voters, MOE +/- 2%) has the race tied at 46% apiece. It couldn’t get any tighter.
The race has been so tight for so long, that it is not news –until we factor in campaign spending. While the focus has been on Republicans’ advantage with Super PACs, the overlooked story is how much Obama has outspent Romney on campaign advertising.
The National Journal‘s Hotline publication has been tabulating the race’s television ad buys. According to their latest calculation of 2012 advertising in thirteen swing states (CO, FL, IA, MI, MN, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI), Obama has outspent Romney almost three to one — $120 million to $43 million thus far. The advantage is not only deep but broad: Obama has outspent Romney in all eleven states where either campaign has spent.
When adding in spending by outside groups, the Democrats’ superiority seems to vanish. Democrats and their allies have spent $141 million, while Republicans and theirs have spent $203 million– outspending Democrats in all states.
However the cash’s quality is not equal. Democrats still hold a decided advantage for two reasons. First, Democrats have far greater control over their resources because a far greater proportion is under Obama’s direct control — not outside groups’. Second, under FEC rules, campaigns pay less for advertising airtime– so Obama’s campaign dollars go further than Republican Super PACs’.
Looking at the polls in this context, the worry should be clear: despite significantly outspending Romney, Obama has gotten no separation from him. Nor is it just Democratic spending that has assailed Romney. He weathered a long grueling primary, during which he was the constant target of all challengers.