At this point in the race for the White House, political strategy is dictated by cash on hand. Sen. Barack Obama's campaign fundraising juggernaut has allowed his campaign to spend freely in Pennsylvania. Furthermore, he is also on the air in North Carolina and Indiana. In the last eight days, the Obama campaign spent an average of $400,000 a day on TV ads, totaling almost $3 million. The Hillary Clinton campaign is still hovering below $1 million in ad spending and has yet to reach outside of the Keystone State.
This ability to spend freely provides Obama's campaign with two clear advantages. The first is obvious: If he can win Pennsylvania, the race for the Democratic nomination will finally be over. The second advantage is painfully clear to the Clinton campaign: Every dollar it is forced to spend to protect its lead in Pennsylvania is a dollar it cannot spending reaching out to voters in Indiana and North Carolina, two states that are just about as important as Pennsylvania. Additionally, the airwaves in both Indiana and North Carolina are getting cluttered with political messages about the economy, healthcare and education due to gubernatorial races in those states. That only makes getting a late start on advertising a bigger disadvantage.
It's win-win for Obama. If he can use his latest ad buys to tighten the race in Pennsylvania then it will be mission accomplished. However, if his ads fail to swing voters his way he is already spending in preparation for the next round of knockout states.
As for Clinton, her only chance is to withstand the Obama ad crush in Pennsylvania and use the lopsided spending as a call to her supporters for more cash to propel her into June.
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Evan Tracey is the founder and chief operating officer of Campaign Media Analysis Group, a TNS Media Intelligence company. See his complete bio.