Romney campaign pins victory hopes on cash advantage, late ad blitz

Mitt Romney’s campaign is pinning its hopes that its big cash advantage will help the GOP nominee against President Obama, who is leading in the polls.

“The goal has always been ‘let’s get into October and be within striking distance,’ ” a GOP strategist close to the Romney campaign told The Hill on Monday. “We’re going to have a financial advantage these last two months in the air wars, from the campaign as well as the third-party independent groups.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Romney had a $60 million cash-on-hand edge over Obama as of the end of July. While Obama edged Romney in August fundraising, bringing in $114 million to the GOP nominee’s $111.6 million, the president’s campaign has been spending at a faster clip in recent months, meaning Romney’s cash edge likely remains significant. 

On top of that, GOP-aligned outside groups like American Crossroads have a huge financial advantage over their Democratic counterparts, and will use that in the closing weeks of the campaign.

The GOP nominee faces a slight deficit in national polls following a post-convention bump for Obama, as well as the daunting prospect of needing to win approximately two-thirds of the swing states to pull off a victory. His campaign sought to put those facts in the best positive light on Monday.

“Don’t get too worked up about the latest polling,” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse wrote in a memo distributed to the press and supporters. “While some voters will feel a bit of a sugar-high from the conventions, the basic structure of the race has not changed significantly. The reality of the Obama economy will reassert itself as the ultimate downfall of the Obama presidency, and Mitt Romney will win this race.”

Newhouse pointed to Romney’s “real advantage” in money as one of the reasons the Republican could win.

Romney’s air advantage going forward is even more important because of Obama’s vaunted ground game. While Republicans say Romney is light-years ahead of where Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was four years ago, many privately expressed concern that Obama’s team will have the edge in getting voters to the polls in some key swing states, despite a slight edge in GOP voters’ enthusiasm about this election. 

But some Republicans warn that money alone can’t buy voters’ love.

“The money advantage is going to allow them to advertise in more places simultaneously than the other side, and that’s worth a few points in the swing states, but it’s not just how much you’re spending, it’s how efficiently you’re communicating,” said GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak, who warned that because both sides will have enough money to spend on ads, Romney’s cash edge alone won’t be enough.

The Romney campaign flexed its financial muscle by adding Wisconsin to its ad buy this weekend, its first major spending in the state since the beginning of the summer. That follows some major ad spending by GOP outside groups Restore Our Future and Americans for Prosperity, which in August spent a combined $5 million in the state. Obama’s campaign did not include Wisconsin in its summer ad spending, though a pro-Obama super-PAC recently began spending there.

The cash advantage could prove crucial for Romney in Ohio and Florida, two large swing states with expensive media markets that take millions of dollars a week for saturation-level ad spending. Both are must-wins for Romney, and states where Obama has led in the most recent polls.

That focus means other past swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, which lean toward Obama, are unlikely to become a recipient of Romney’s ad spending. 

“We’re in a phase where you know what your key electoral states are,” said the strategist close to Romney’s campaign.