Restore Our Future, a super PAC dedicated to helping Romney, has booked $14 million worth of ads in nine states for the final week of October — more than it spent on ads during the month of September. The group is also ramping up its spending, airing a mix of ads criticizing Obama and extolling Romney in Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia.
Charles R. Spies, the super PAC’s treasurer, said conservative groups “have been very effective in leveling the playing field” with Obama. “That effort will continue at an increasing level going forward,” he said.
The GOP effort has gained momentum with Romney’s advance in the polls since the first presidential debate in Denver, where Obama turned in a widely panned performance. The Oct. 3 event sparked an influx of donations to Romney’s campaign and to conservative groups supporting him, giving them more resources for the final push, strategists said.
The ramped-up advertising by Republicans left Obama behind his GOP foes in total ad expenditures last week for the first time since the summer, though he has massive cash reserves after raising $181 million in September. Obama and his key outside ally, the Priorities USA Action super PAC, have kept up a steady barrage ads attacking Romney in Ohio and other battlegrounds.
Democrats and even some Republicans argue that the Romney team, particularly the campaign itself, wasted a key opportunity by ceding the ad advantage to Obama from late August through September, which coincided with a boost in the polls for the president.
Brad Todd, a Republican media strategist, said he suspects that the big push at the end is designed to reach voters displeased with Obama but unwilling to embrace Romney — fence-sitters who have delayed making up their minds.
“Advertising at the end typically makes the biggest difference to those voters,” Todd said.
Since the Republican convention in late August, the Obama side has run 28 percent more ads than Romney and all the groups behind him combined, according to estimates from Kantar Media/CMAG. Democrats spent slightly more than Republicans during that time, taking advantage of rules mandating cheaper ad time for campaigns and also seeking out less-expensive airtime at different times of day.
But Romney and GOP groups are now flooding the airwaves in force, spending about 50 percent more on ads than Obama this week, according to tracking data. The surge comes at a fortuitous time for Romney, who is now even or ahead of Obama in many national and swing-state polls.