While there are talented and hardworking staffers and consultants working on the Romney campaign, this column since July has been highly critical of Romney advertising and messaging. The decision to defer any biographical ads until August—ads that would have sought to define Romney on a personal level beyond being just rich, as someone worthy of trust, and as someone whom swing voters might be comfortable having in the White House—is inexplicable. The Obama campaign and allies ripped Romney apart in swing-state advertising, and with no Teflon coating to protect their candidate, it stuck like Velcro. While Romney allies say that such positive ads did not “move numbers” when dial-tested, my view is that these kinds of ads are essential to making their candidate acceptable. No matter how unhappy voters are, if they are uncomfortable with the alternative, the incumbent survives.
Only in the last few days has the Romney campaign begun buying any time in swing states on local cable systems, something the Obama team has been doing for months. While one campaign has been looking for every nook and cranny to reach voters and has been doing so for some time, the other didn’t bother until after the conventions. Go figure.