Commentary Magazine


Obama Can’t Buy Voter Enthusiasm

A Gallup poll out this morning found that Mitt Romney has an eight-point voter enthusiasm advantage over President Obama across 12 swing states, an edge that could make all the difference in a tight race:

The June swing-states poll showed 47 percent of registered voters across the 12 swing states backing President Barack Obama for president and 45 percent backing the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.

However, voters in swing states who support Romney for president are more likely than those backing Obama to say they feel “extremely enthusiastic” about voting — 31 percent to 23 percent. The same pattern is seen by party, with 32 percent of Republicans in the swing states and 25 percent of Democrats reporting extreme enthusiasm. However, these candidate- and party-level differences disappear when one looks at total enthusiasm, defined as those either extremely or very enthusiastic.

Obama hasn’t been able to come up with a message that rallies his base yet, and the Romney scare tactics may not be enough to get these less-enthusiastic supporters out to the polls. Money isn’t the issue either, though Democrats may try to spin it that way. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, Obama has spent more than four times as much as Romney on swing state TV advertising so far:

President Obama has spent more than $91 million on television ads in eight swing states as of July 6, a massive sum that dwarfs the $23 million former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has disbursed on campaign commercials in those same places. Only heavy spending by Republican super PACs is keeping Romney within financial shouting distance of the incumbent on television at this point.

The data, which was provided to the Fix by a Republican media buyer, paints a fascinating picture of Obama’s overwhelming ad advantage in each of the states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Virginia — where both campaigns are spending.

Yet more proof that money doesn’t guarantee an advantage. And considering Obama’s mediocre fundraising numbers and the way he’s been burning through cash, it’s hard to imagine he can keep up this pace of spending through the fall. Obama and the DNC reportedly had about $140 million on hand at the beginning of June. If they raise $70 million each month between now and the election (Obama’s largest monthly haul so far), that would give them about $420 million — with four months to go. If one thing is certain, it’s that Obama will not have the $300 million spending advantage on Romney that he had on John McCain in 2008.