Obama Cash Typhoon Swamps McCain Camp

Obama's spending advantages have helped him to build a lead in the polls, and they threaten to make McCain's uphill climb to win the election even steeper, independent analysts said.

The spending has enabled Obama to solidify his position in Democratic-leaning states like Michigan and contest several Republican-leaning states like Virginia and North Carolina, forcing Team McCain to spend money defending political turf it had expected to be secure.

Indeed, in an e-mail to supporters Sunday morning, Plouffe said the Obama campaign has begun contesting West Virginia and is eyeing Georgia and North Dakota, Republican-dominated states where polls show the race tightening.

In state after state, McCain's spending is being dwarfed by Obama's.

In Virginia, a state that no Democratic presidential candidate has won since 1964, the Obama campaign boasts 49 campaign offices and 200 paid staffers on the ground, to just two dozen offices and 50 paid staffers for the McCain campaign.

In one recent week, Obama bombarded northern Virginia with 1,200 television commercials broadcast on Washington D.C. stations at a cost of $2.7 million, while the McCain campaign ran no ads at all that week, Tracey said.

"And these were not just 30-second spots," Tracey said. "There were one-minute and two-minute commercials – mini-programs in advertising terms."

In Florida, the Obama campaign aired 1,066 commercials in the Miami market at a cost of $1.3 million in the week that ended Oct. 4, while McCain ran no ads in the market, Tracey said.

An analysis by CMAG and the Wisconsin Advertising Project found that Obama outspent McCain in television ads by more than three to one in Florida and Virginia that week, and by margins of more than two to one in New Hampshire and an overwhelming eight to one in North Carolina.

The two campaigns were roughly even in spending in Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the analysis found.

The Republican National Committee has tried to narrow the advertising gap, running its own ads to complement those launched by the McCain campaign. The national GOP also is using its resources to supplement the McCain campaign's get-out-the-vote operation.

"McCain is trying to stretch his dollars" through the RNC's participation, said David Magleby, a political scientist and dean of social sciences at Brigham Young University. "They have been doing this a lot."

Still, the spending advantage clearly is with Obama. With his lode of cash, he has been able to buy a television "roadblock" – a half-hour block of time on the broadcast networks – at 8 p.m. on Oct. 29, at a cost of several million dollars.

Obama has become the first presidential candidate to place ads in video games, inserting political messages that can be seen by players of 18 online Xbox video games in 10 battleground states.

The ads appear in the games as banners or billboards with an image of Obama, the slogan "Early voting has begun," and a reference to his VoteForChange.com Web site, where visitors can register to vote, obtain absentee voter information and find polling locations.

Obama's resources also have allowed him to exploit other relatively new technologies as well, such as text messaging. His campaign has created a two-way messaging service that allows voters to text questions to the campaign and receive alerts about rallies in their communities.

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