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July 15, 2004
Kerry Campaign Pulling Ads In Key States

In an interesting reversal of their stated strategy of expanding the map, the Kerry campaign has instead ceased advertising in several key states, including most of the South (via Drudge):

Despite promises to expand the election playing field, John Kerry has reduced his ad spending in Missouri, Arizona and throughout the South in the run-up to the Democratic presidential convention.

Kerry's advisers said they were not shrinking their political map, only saving resources for later in the campaign and redirecting ad money to hotly contested states like Florida and Ohio. President Bush's campaign called the strategy a sign of weakness in GOP-leaning territory. ...

In his new round of advertising, Kerry has significantly increased his spending in several key states while slightly lowering buys for Missouri and Arizona. Voters in both states will still see plenty of ads, just relatively few compared to other battlegrounds. In Virginia, the Kerry campaign dramatically reduced its ad buy. Last month, he pulled his ads out of Louisiana and Arkansas.

Kerry strategist Tad Devine said the states are still competitive and called the shift a part of the natural ebb and flow of ad strategies.

Devine is spinning. Kerry has to spend the money he raised during the primary season before receiving the nomination at the convention, which is just two weeks away. Once he has the nomination, he gets $75 million in federal funding, and the primary cash can't be spent on anything other than debt relief from the primary season. Resource redistristribution only makes sense if Kerry can use these resources later, which he can't.

Something tells me that Democratic pollsters have decided that Missouri, Arizona, and most of the South will be out of Kerry's reach. The South is no surprise; even Southerner Al Gore couldn't carry any of the South in 2000, not even his home state of Tennessee, and it cost him the election. Giving up on Missouri appears premature, as polling still shows Bush only up by a couple of points there. Arkansas is also close (two points), and Bill Clinton's home state, so either they're seeing something significantly more pessimistic than has been released to the general public or they're running a bit scared.

Or, possibly, Kerry/Edwards is running out of cash. Nothing in this report addresses the campaign's cash position, although they just raised the most expensive $7.5 million they'll ever see at Radio City Music Hall last week. It would explain their abandoning competitive states this close to the convention, because quite frankly, nothing else but incompetence could.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 15, 2004 6:52 AM

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