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Morning Jay: Is Obama's Ad Blitz Moving the Polls?

6:00 AM, Aug 3, 2012 • By JAY COST
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Admittedly, this is a quick-and-dirty approach to answering our question. The method here is not compelling enough to draw any firm conclusions, but it can give us a sense.

What we see here is a slight bump in Obama’s numbers over what we would otherwise expect, amounting to about a 3 percent average improvement. Meanwhile, Romney’s support in these states is about 1 point lower than what we would expect, for a total swing of about 4 points.

As a point of comparison, Rasmussen has also polled in three swing states that have not (yet) received a sustained advertising blitz – Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin. In those three states Rasmussen found Obama doing 2 points better on average than expected and Romney doing 1.5 points better.

So, on net this data suggests that Obama has enjoyed a slight boost from his advertising. It is not determinative, only suggestive – and I encourage you to read Trende’s analysis carefully. He approaches the question from a different angle and arrives at a different conclusion.

Is this polling bump an important development? It is hard to say. It is worth noting that in the last two weeks, the Romney campaign and the main Republican super PAC, Crossroads GPS, have upped their ad spending in these states. That suggests they think it is time to engage the president.

But I am not at all convinced that, in the end, Obama is actually winning over voters. Above all, the truly undecided are not really paying attention at the moment. They might have been swayed toward Team Obama a little bit, but I doubt they have been locked down. That being said, I do believe that the president has successfully laid the groundwork for his general election strategy, which Greg Sargent ably summarizes here. Basically, it boils down to the idea that, though the state of the union stinks right now, Romney is an uncaring plutocrat who will make it worse for the middle class. These ads have clearly forwarded that agenda.

We should assume that every voter by Election Day will know this argument by heart. However, they will also be able to recite the Romney rejoinder. The positive side of that case will lean heavily on his biography as a businessman, Winter Olympics fixer, and bipartisan governor to argue that he is the right man to repair the economy.

Team Romney, for various reasons, has only begun to make that case, meaning that the real action has yet to begin.

Jay Cost is a staff writer for THE WEEKLY STANDARD and the author of Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic, available now wherever books are sold. 

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