Also published on HuffingtonPost
So! Here we are in early August, in the midst a presidential race that folks have been saying would be won by a razor-thin margin either way. Funny thing: if we can believe the polls, Obama looks to be opening a solid lead. Judging from his current advertising strategy, Romney may believe it, too.
Of course, Obama’s current uptick could just be a temporary blip, but let’s think this out: what happens if public opinion IS actually shifting in the Democrats’ direction across the country, potentially putting the House of Representatives in serious play? If you’re a SuperPAC, c4 or other outside expenditure group, your presidential-level money may not make much difference, since most people’s minds are made up and battleground states are already so flooded with ads that no one’s likely to even notice more. But congressional and state-level races are a different story: a few million dropped into a House race or one for state legislature can make an enormous difference in the outcome.
Here’s a prediction: if big-money donors and the organizations they fund start to lose confidence in even the chance of a Romney victory, look for them to pour more of their money than originally planned into races BELOW the presidential level. I.e., if you can’t stop Obama’s reelection, cut him off at the knees by giving him a hostile Congress (it worked in 2012, after all). We can even use this idea to polish our crystal ball — if conservative outside groups shift their money, it may be a SIGN that they’ve lost faith in the top of the ticket. And in that case, Democrats had better be ready to shift resources on THEIR side, lest they risk being blown out of the water in races that aren’t even currently considered to be in play. Watch this space.
Is anyone tracking online ad spending (at least adwords) within each battleground state? I’d think the pro-Romney superpacs would be the first to shift (and Rove has always been more interested than most about building state legislative majorities) and adwords would be a place that would be both under the radar (so no story written about pulling TV ads) and public.