McCain Needs a Message More Than Money

It's the Only Way He Can Combat Obama Ad Onslaught

By Published on .

Evan Tracey Evan Tracey
Sen. John McCain has a problem. His campaign trail rival, Sen. Barack Obama, is outspending him by historic proportions on TV ads in swing states, as well as nationally on network and cable TV. If the McCain campaign were a football team, all their remaining games would be played on the road and the roar of the hostile Obama crowds would make it too difficult for his campaign to even call the plays.

Obama's current ads are divided into three tiers. The top tier likens McCain to George Bush. The second tier compares and contrasts the candidates' health-care policies. And the third tier is a touching message of American values. The McCain ads are more or less about taxes and Obama's shady relationships and associations.

The only way for McCain to win at this point is to take Obama's overpowering message out of the game. This is easier said than done. McCain needs the Obama campaign to make mistakes, and McCain needs a message that will silence the crowd and connect with voters from swing states. Simply pulling ad buys from long-shot states and reallocating money will not be enough for a McCain victory.

So can this be done? McCain's message in the final two weeks will need to accomplish two things: change the voters' minds about Obama and the Republican Party and make soft Obama supporters think again.

At this point in the campaign, this cannot be done with new policy ideas. Instead, McCain must connect with swing voters emotionally. For McCain to win this race, his closing message must reach voters who fear an Obama presidency, feel anxiety for the future under total Democratic control of the government and are angry at charges of voter fraud and media bias towards the McCain-Palin ticket.

Right now, McCain needs a message more than he needs money.

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Evan Tracey is the founder and president of Campaign Media Analysis Group, a TNS Media Intelligence company. See his complete bio.
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