Obama is Wasting His Campaign Funds (and Romney Too)
I know, I know, President Obama wasting other people’s money? Just doesn’t sound like the guy.
There’s been a lot of talk in the press about how Obama has spent a lot of money on ads defining Romney in swing states, and about Romney’s relatively small presence on air:
And there is another place where his presence is oddly lacking: in the television ad wars.
Despite what appears to be a plump bank account and an in-house production studio that cranks out multiple commercials a day, Mr. Romney’s campaign has been tightfisted with its advertising budget, leaving him at a disadvantage in several crucial states as President Obama blankets them with ads.
There’s just one important thing overlooked here . . . there is very good evidence that while campaign ads can have a big impact on voters, the effect is extremely short-lived. The best evidence we have is that the impact on the most persuadable voters lasts only for a few days or a week at the most.
Now, for voters who are much more knowledgeable, there’s evidence that any impact from ads and new information sticks around. But those are the voters who are hardest to move. After all, they already know a lot about politics and the campaign, and they are more likely to have ideological convictions and identify strongly with a party.
If Romney or Obama are advertising at all right now, they should be trying to target high-information voters with relatively detailed information that actually might be news to them, not gauzy platitudes and general promises or accusations.
Fortunately, Obama seems to have blown more money than Romney on largely worthless campaign ads too far out from the elections to matter. Unfortunately, Romney hasn’t made any kind of detailed pitch early on to those relatively informed voters with whom it might make a difference. And Romney is still blowing a bunch of money airing ads that won’t make a lick of difference in November.
Hopefully Romney will keep most of his powder dry until the last few weeks, when campaign advertising will actually help win the election.