If you live in a battleground state, you undoubtedly have noticed that President Obama is running negative ads against Mitt Romney that outnumber Romney’s ads by three to one, five to one, or eight to one. At the same time, we read that in recent months, Romney has significantly out-raised Obama. So what is going on?
Byron York explains:
Campaign finance laws. Romney officials believe this is the most under-reported aspect of the ad war so far. Until the Republican National Convention, which begins August 27, Romney is forbidden from spending the money he has raised for the general election. Instead, he is using money left over from the GOP primary race. Of course, Romney spent a huge amount of money — about $85 million — to win that primary race. Even though he has been raising vast amounts for the general election, he doesn’t have gobs of cash to use right now. Obama, on the other hand, didn’t have to spend any money winning a Democratic primary. The result is that Obama is hugely out-spending Romney in key states. A recent Washington Post report said Obama has outspent Romney in Florida $17 million to $2 million, as of July 6. The numbers in Ohio were $22 million to $6.5 million, and in Virginia, they were $11 million to $3 million. That is a huge, huge advantage for Obama — not unlike the advantage Romney enjoyed over his Republican rivals during the primary season.
So that explains it. It is interesting to compare Byron’s assessment of the situation with mine. Byron is plainly concerned about Obama’s negative advertising blitz:
So at least at the moment, the vaunted Romney death star, the machine that flattened his Republican opponents, just isn’t working. Romney is trying to get traction — this week, he’s focusing on Obama’s crony capitalism — but he is struggling. To fix things, he’ll have to put out more facts about his own record, plus capitalize on more bad economic news for Obama (that’s a sure bet at this point), plus gain access to the money he’s raised for the general election, plus find a way to sharpen the SuperPACs’ games. And then he’ll have to regain the back-against-the-wall fighting spirit he had in the Florida primary. If he doesn’t, the Obama campaign will run over him.
My perspective is more optimistic. Fundamentally, I think it is impossible for an incumbent president to run away from his record. To me, the most striking thing about Obama’s vicious attacks is that Romney is not just still standing, but is actually leading in likely voter polls.