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News from the Votemaster

Obama Launches Massive Ad Buy in Swing States

The Obama campaign has just reserved $77 million worth of television time for ads in swing states. Below is a list of where the money is going, how many people voted in that state in 2008, and how many electoral votes it has.

State EVs 2008 Votes Ad buy $/EV $/vote
New Hampshire 4 710,970 $4,939,620 $1,234,905 $6.95
Nevada 6 967,848 $4,939,620 $823,270 $5.10
Iowa 6 1,537,123 $7,315,224 $1,219,204 $4.76
Ohio 18 5,708,350 $19,533,433 $1,085,191 $3.42
Virginia 13 3,723,260 $11,582,494 $890,961 $3.11
Colorado 9 2,401,462 $7,025,120 $780,569 $2.93
North Carolina 15 4,310,789 $7,647,844 $509,856 $1.77
Florida 27 8,390,744 $13,355,226 $494,638 $1.59

From these numbers we can compute how much is being spent to get to each voter and how much is being spent per EV that might be obtained. This might give an idea of Obama's priorities. A number of things stand out here. First, his absolute expenditure in Ohio is at the top of the list even though (or maybe on account of) the fact that it is a tough state for him. It is full of white working-class men who are hostile to him. On the other hand, Florida, the other big swing state, is full of old people, who tend to vote Republican. The large push in Ohio is probably due to a single op-ed Mitt Romney wrote in the New York Times on Nov. 18, 2008 entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." Ohio has thousands of small companies that supply parts to the auto industry. Bankruptcies in Detroit would have reverberated all over Ohio. In addition, Romney's role at Bain Capital, taking over troubled companies, outsourcing jobs, and firing workers is a sore point in the state. If Obama can make Romney toxic, some working-class men in Ohio may hold their noses and vote for him and others may stay home on election day rather than vote for Romney.

Nevada, Iowa, and Virginia are also getting a lot of financial attention. All of them lean a little bit in Obama's direction and with a big push, he might be able to seal the deal. He has visited Virginia 39 times in his presidency, in part because it is conveniently located but also in part because permanently peeling it off from the old Confederacy would strike a body blow to the Republican Party for years to come. New Hampshire is a bit of a special case here. Most New Hampshire voters watch Boston television stations, so to reach them, he has to advertise in the expensive Boston television market.

As Sherlock Holmes once noted, sometimes the dog that does not bark actually says something. Noteworthy is where Obama is not advertising. He has not bought time in Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin. Mostly likely he sees Missouri as a lost cause and New Mexico safe enough that he doesn't have to put much effort into it. In Pennsylvania and Wisconsin he has big leads among registered voters and likely voters. What is not known is how well he does with possible voters, that is, voters who have the photo ID required by new laws in those states. If large numbers of Democrats who turn out to vote are not allowed to vote because they lack a photo ID, those states could go for Romney, but apparently Obama does not think the states are worth advertising in.

The Economy Is Now Part of the Culture Wars

It used to be that your position on the economy (taxes, federal spending, etc.) had nothing to do with whether you believed a zygote was a full-fledged human being. There were plenty of politicians who were culturally conservative but progressive on taxes. Most Southern Democrats were like that. Many Northern Republicans were the opposite: socially progressive but in favor of lower taxes. All of that is gone now. Voters--and more to the point--politicians must now accept either package A (abortion is evil and government is evil) or package B (abortion is not a problem and government is good). Intermediate positions are no longer tolerated. Any politician who is great on social issues but bad on taxes or vice versa is likely to get primaried. This has made our politics completely inflexible and made it impossible for a politician who wants to ban abortion and one who wants to keep it legal to come to a deal on taxes, something that used to be possible. Andrew Leonard at Salon has a nice piece on the subject.

Today Marks a Transition for Obama

To start with, yesterday he was 50 and today he is 51. But there is another transition as well. Unlike Bill Clinton, who loves schmoozing, Obama doesn't like it at all. He's always been as private as his job will allow. Up until now, only close personal friends have been allowed in his home in Chicago. But for his birthday party today, he ran a raffle with an invitation to his birthday party at his home as the prize. This strategy is intended to increase small donations. A similar event at the home of George Clooney raised $15 million for Obama. Unfortunately for the campaign, Michelle Obama's birthday is in January.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Indiana Joe Donnelly 40% Richard Mourdock 42%     Jul 31 Aug 01 Rasmussen

* Denotes incumbent