Jun 07, 2012 12:07 AM GMT
$25 million in ads and what does President Barack Obama campaign have to show for it? Stagnant or sagging poll numbers, an opponent who’s finally showing fight, and dissension in the ranks.
In May, the Obama campaign devoted $25 million to campaign ads, most of it to a slew of positive spots highlighting his record on issues from health care to the auto-bailout. One featured an Ohio autoworker hailing Obama for “sticking his neck out” for the industry. In another, Obama explains why he decided to bail out the car companies. A third is simply an animated chart showing job growth under Obama’s tenure in office, ending with a text overlay “Do we really want to reverse course now?”
The investment has not paid off, by the standard measure of ads’ effectiveness, polling. While Mitt Romney’s numbers jumped in May — largely the result of him solidifying support among Republicans after the primary — Obama’s numbers barely moved in some surveys; in others, they went down. Obama averaged a 47-percent job approval rating in May — the same as in April — according to Gallup surveys. In a head-to-head with Romney nationally Obama’s numbers remained within the margin of error. And in a series of swing states like Iowa, Wisconsin, and Colorado, Obama ceded ground to Romney. The Republican candidate also pulled even with Obama in swing states like Nevada, Colorado, and Iowa in the latest NBC News/Marist poll.
The recent polls “would suggest that the [Obama] ads had no effect or the opposite effect,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayers.
The media spending, of course, faced what the president recently referred to as “headwinds.” Economic data set a gloomy backdrop. And the Karl Rove-backed Super PAC American Crossroads launched a $25 million ad campaign to match Obama’s.
But if the Rove and Obama ad buys did offset, it sets a troubling precedent for Obama, who faces hundreds of millions of dollars in outside spending that he will have to match just to hold his ground.
And the president’s first salvo also brought with it advantages. Rove’s buy didn’t get nearly the attention, and repetition from the mainstream media as did a new negative salvo from the Obama campaign, which made up a small portion of the overall paid television advertising, but which brought with it a wave of unflattering attention to Romney’s career at Bain Capital.