Obama’s campaign has placed ads in fewer than 60 media markets nationwide, skipping some expensive areas such as Philadelphia and Washington, compared with 80 in the early weeks of the 2008 general-election campaign. In 2008, Obama began running ads against McCain in late June.
The president’s campaign has put an increased focus on Ohio, which has become the most competitive big prize in the race. Four of the most saturated media markets for presidential advertising are in Ohio, and Obama’s campaign has spent more on broadcast advertising there than in Florida, another critical swing state with about twice the population.
That is in contrast to Obama’s spending in the opening weeks of 2008, when Florida received nearly twice as much advertising money as Ohio, according to estimates of spending from Kantar Media/CMAG.
“They can win without Ohio, but if they win Ohio they will be reelected,” said Jim Jordan, a Democratic strategist. He and others say that if Obama could repeat his 2008 victory in Ohio, he would need to secure just two or three of the other roughly half-dozen most competitive swing states. “There’s just no way Romney can win without flipping Ohio,” Jordan said.
Obama campaign officials said they have not emphasized television advertising, choosing instead to focus on face-to-face interactions with voters.
“We believe that being on the ground in communities all across the country is where the real conversations about the choice in this election happen,” said Katie Hogan, a campaign spokeswoman. “This campaign set out to expand the map in 2011, making as many routes to victory as possible.”
The campaign also has made Ohio the biggest target of an expanded voter-mobilization effort, opening 25 field offices in the state, funded with most of the $2.6 million transferred to the Ohio state party, more funding than any other part of the country has received.
By comparison, Romney is far behind Obama when it comes to field offices and the other infrastructure needed to make voter contacts. Obama and the Democratic Party have four times as many staff members around the country as Romney and the Republicans, according to a Washington Post analysis of campaign spending reports through April 30, the latest information available.
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul dismissed the importance of the Obama team’s larger field operation, saying, “No matter how many hundreds of field offices and campaign staffers they have, it won’t make up for the 23 million Americans who are struggling for work.”