Friday, October 31, 2008

The McCain Campaign: Smarter Than We Thought

McCain Campaign Chair Rick Davis, per Politico:
"'In the last ten days of this campaign McCain will outspend Barack Obama on television,'" Davis said. He said McCain would air a direct-to-camera ad talking about how he's always put his country first."
Now let's take this further. Not only is McCain outspending Obama by $10 million, but this investment is going into fewer states than Obama, thereby increasing their effect. For example, McCain using this cash advantage in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia is more effective for his campaign than Obama spending his funds in several states where he feels he can win. However, I would recommend some skepticism until we see an analysis from the Wisconsin Advertising Project. These guys do a good job of analyzing what is spent where.

However, if this is in fact true, then the McCain campaign is particularly brilliant considering this study recently released that deduces the following:
"Recent studies of campaign advertising typically assess the response of voters to advertisements only from the last few weeks before the voter is interviewed. In so doing, they implicitly assume that the effects of advertisements decay over time. This paper attempts an explicit estimate of the rate of this decay for the Annenberg survey of voters in the 2000 election. Our results indicate that decay is fairly rapid. Even when the persuasive effect of ads on candidate preference is large, 50 to 75 percent of the effect dissipates within the first week and almost all is gone by the end of the second week. Along with other recent evidence, this tentative finding undermines the view that American voters are persuaded by information that accumulates during long campaigns and suggests instead the importance of tactical maneuvers by candidates to dominate the airwaves at the very end of campaigns."
In other words, the McCain campaign is dominating the airwaves at a time where swing voters are most vulnerable to influence. After the recent tightening of the polls it may be just what is needed to win this thing.

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