Thursday, April 15, 2004

I never thought this would happen, but it looks like the Bush campaign is running short on funds (relatively speaking).

Bush Campaign's Big TV Ad Push Trimmed
This move was planned, Republicans say. But Democrats and independent analysts believe the spots didn't hurt Kerry as intended.

By Ronald Brownstein, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Despite its unprecedented fund-raising success, President Bush's reelection team is scaling back its massive level of television advertising, according to senior Republicans familiar with the campaign's planning.

In the next few weeks, viewers in the 18 states where the ads have aired since early March will see about 30% fewer a week, one ranking GOP strategist said.

Republicans were planning, the article suggests, on knocking out Kerry early in the election cycle by spending a lot of cash.

...The reelection team spent so much so soon "with the intent of putting this thing away early, and it didn't happen," said Erik Smith, executive director of The Media Fund, a group formed by leading Democrats that is running ads in support of Kerry.

Independent analysts agreed with that assessment.

Anthony Corrado, an expert on campaign finance at Colby College in Maine, said that since March 4 — just after Kerry effectively wrapped up his party's nomination — Bush has bought about as much television advertising as past presidential candidates purchased for the entire general election campaign. "And frankly," Corrado said, "they didn't move the [poll] numbers that much."

He added: "The Bush campaign came out heavy, both in terms of volume and with some of their strongest attacks, and they didn't get a knock-out."

Evan Tracey, chief operating officer of TNSMI/Campaign Media Analysis Group, said Bush "probably scored some points" with his ads. But he added that their impact was blunted by the escalation of violence in Iraq and questions that have surfaced about the administration's anti-terrorism efforts before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Perhaps the best part is this:

...The Bush campaign has raised at least $180 million that it can spend before the president is officially renominated at the GOP convention in early September. That is the most any presidential candidate has collected, and some predict the total could reach $200 million.

But at the rate the Bush campaign is spending on hiring a staff and building its grassroots organization, Corrado projects that it would allocate about $90 million through the convention to basic operations. That would leave at least an equal amount for advertising, and somewhat more as the campaign continues to raise money.

Those figures suggest that the Bush campaign may have spent around 40% of the total available to it for advertising before the convention.

The Bush campaign has always struck me as a little top-heavy. Although Howard Dean got a reputation for being a spendthrift when it became known that he spent 30 million dollars in 2003 before the primaries began, George W. Bush spent $33.6 million during the same period of time although he was running unopposed in the primaries. A cost of $90 million for basic operations seems rather high, but even better, they've already spent forty percent of their pre-convention advertising money. Think about what this means:

Bush started his advertising campaign in the second week of March, approximately.

Between the second week of March, and the Republican National Convention, in September, there are approximately 24 weeks.

Between the second week of March and now, there have been five weeks.

What this means is that while in the last six weeks, Bush has been spending on average 6.67 percent of his campaign fund a week on advertising, he will have to cut back in the remaining 18 weeks before the convention to 3.33 percent, half of what he has been spending.

Hopefully, this is an indication that the people running his campaign possess the same fiscal management skills as those that run the Bush Treasury Department. If so, Kerry has little to worry about.


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