Cillizza looks at Obama, McCain Strategies

Chris Cillizza weighed in today with an interesting take on the early general election strategies of the two Presidentials. He writes:

The coverage of Barack Obama's decision last week to forego public financing for the general election centered on the fact that the Illinois senator is almost certain to have a considerable spending edge in the fall campaign over John McCain.

What was largely overlooked, however, is how Obama's decision impacts McCain's fundraising between now and when he formally accepts the party's nomination on Sept. 4. Since McCain opted out of public financing for the primary race, he can raise and spend as much as he likes over the next 73 days. And, if he wants to have a real chance at the presidency, he must find a way to come within financial shouting distance of Obama over those next two and a half months.

"Advertising in the summer will be more important than advertising in the fall," said Curt Anderson, a Republican media consultant who advised the presidential candidacy of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. "After the conventions are over there will be a very tiny sliver of the electorate that remains undecided. The pool of undecided voters is bigger in the summer than it will be in the fall."

Recent presidential election history backs up Anderson's contention.

Back in 1996, President Bill Clinton effectively closed out the contest against Sen. Bob Dole (Kans.) during the summer with a slew of advertising that portrayed the Kansas senator as out of touch. Dole, essentially bankrupted after the primary fight, was unable to respond as he waited for his general election money to kick in. By the time it did, the race was over; Clinton sat on his lead and Dole was never able to overcome first impressions....

I wrote about the significance of the Obama buy last week here. And I agree with Cillizza - early media matters, and it is clearly possible given the bigger trends and early poll data that Obama could put this thing away in the next few weeks. All eyes on the McCain response now.

Update: Frank Rich had a great column yesterday, one that touched upon the early advertising strategy of the McCain campaign.

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