Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

McCain Nearly Down to the Felt: $12 Million left to Spend

As any good Texas-Holdem poker player (like Barack Obama) knows that when your chips get low and you are almost out of the game (down to the felt in poker terms), you wait for the best hand you can get and move all in an attempt to “double up”. Translating that to politics, with McCain constrained by taking public financing, that decision is turning into potentially a fatal one. And it explains his decision to move his ad spending out of a number of battleground states.

We have news today that McCain is drastically cutting his ad spending in a number of states:

In another sign that John McCain is on the defensive as time runs out, the McCain campaign is shifting its ad money out of blue tossup states and into red tossups and even traditionally red states, according to ad maven Evan Tracey.

McCain has dramatically slashed his ad spending in Wisconsin and New Hampshire and reduced it in Pennsylvania, suggesting that he’s either losing hope or giving up hope in winning in three states that went for John Kerry in 2004, or that he doesn’t have ample enough resources for them.

He’s also reduced his spending in Colorado, which went for Bush but is showing a lead for Obama, suggesting he may be losing hope there, too.

“There’s definitely a scaling back in those states,” says Tracey, who tracks national ad spending for the Campaign Media Analysis Group and gave TPM some numbers so we could flesh out and synthesize disparate reports about various spending shifts into a big picture.

It’s a curious decision to move out of some of these states, especially Colorado where Obama has a solid but not insurmountable lead. Of course, if Obama wins Colorado along with Iowa and New Mexico and holds the Kerry states, he wins. But Colorado is not an outrageously expensive state, so throwning some coin there seems like a no-brainer. Until you get a look at how much money McCain has left to spend:

WASHINGTON (AP) — New campaign spending reports show Republican John McCain had less than $24 million to spend on his presidential campaign as of last week. The Republican National Committee reported having nearly $60 million in the bank.

McCain reported that as of Oct. 15 he had $25.2 million cash in hand and $1.2 million in debts. At his spending rate of $1.5 million a day, McCain likely has $12 million left to spend in the next 11 days.

Election Day is Nov. 4.

McCain filed his reports to the Federal Election Commission on Thursday evening.

That is absolutely brutal. Now, the $12 million is an estimate based on McCain’s previous spending rate (he had $24 million as of the 15th), but assuming that’s remotely accurate, there is simply no way for McCain to stretch his ad dollars to a bunch of states. Like a poker player low on chips, you can’t play every hand; you pick your best two cards and push. And with only $12 million left to play with, McCain is definitely down to his last hand or two.

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October 24, 2008 - Posted by | Media Strategy | , , , ,

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