Here it comes, with three weeks to go. From WaPo:
Republican nominee Mitt Romney and his allies are banking heavily on a high-risk, high-reward media strategy in the final weeks of the campaign, hoping that burying President Obama in ads will give them a crucial edge on Election Day.
Ad purchases in the presidential race doubled or in some cases tripled last week in swing states such as Colorado, Florida, Iowa and Virginia, tracking data show. The surge is being driven by Romney and well-funded allies, who decided against running more ads earlier in the campaign in favor of a big bang at the end.
Restore Our Future, a super PAC dedicated to helping Romney, has booked $14 million worth of ads in nine states for the final week of October — more than it spent on ads during the month of September. The group is also ramping up its spending, airing a mix of ads criticizing Obama and extolling Romney in Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia.
Charles R. Spies, the super PAC’s treasurer, said conservative groups “have been very effective in leveling the playing field” with Obama. “That effort will continue at an increasing level going forward,” he said.
The GOP effort has gained momentum with Romney’s advance in the polls since the first presidential debate in Denver, where Obama turned in a widely panned performance. The Oct. 3 event sparked an influx of donations to Romney’s campaign and to conservative groups supporting him, giving them more resources for the final push, strategists said.
As I've mentioned here once or twice, I've been a fan of the Romney advertising -- it's been nimble and tough and creative. And the RNC has been nothing short of stunning: Republicans are supposed to be bad at this kind of fast-turnaround advertising.
On the other hand, I haven't been a fan of the Romney lay-low strategy, which he seemed to be employing for most of September:
Democrats and even some Republicans argue that the Romney team, particularly the campaign itself, wasted a key opportunity by ceding the ad advantage to Obama from late August through September, which coincided with a boost in the polls for the president.
Brad Todd, a Republican media strategist, said he suspects that the big push at the end is designed to reach voters displeased with Obama but unwilling to embrace Romney — fence-sitters who have delayed making up their minds.
“Advertising at the end typically makes the biggest difference to those voters,” Todd said.
On the other other hand, there's a certain power in the late-in-the-game barrage of TV spots. And they seem to be having the right effect:
Since the Republican convention in late August, the Obama side has run 28 percent more ads than Romney and all the groups behind him combined, according to estimates from Kantar Media/CMAG. Democrats spent slightly more than Republicans during that time, taking advantage of rules mandating cheaper ad time for campaigns and also seeking out less-expensive airtime at different times of day.
But Romney and GOP groups are now flooding the airwaves in force, spending about 50 percent more on ads than Obama this week, according to tracking data. The surge comes at a fortuitous time for Romney, who is now even or ahead of Obama in many national and swing-state polls.
The Romney campaign declined to discuss its ad strategy in detail. An aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal plans said the campaign is likely to increase its volume further as Election Day approaches.
I have my quibbles with the Romney strategy -- which I'm sure keeps Romney World up late at night wondering How can we make Rob happier? -- and I'm an out-of-the-closet worry-wart. But I like it when our side goes all the way in. And I'm a lot more comfortable now that I know they're going all the way in with a message that seems to be moving the voters: We tried something, gave the guy a shot, and it's not working; Obama is an incompetent disaster; Here comes grownup leadership to grow the economy and get business booming again.
Now that's worth spending $100 million dollars to shout from the rooftops.