Yet, for all the focus on the money chase, we rarely get a firm measure of how effectively the campaigns are spending all that cash. Today marks an exception: hard data that Obama's swing state ad blitz — which kicked off in May with a $25 million ad buy in states like Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and Virginia — has done his opponent serious damage.
The president's ads, hitting Romney for his lackluster performance as governor in Massachusetts and his career in "vulture capitalism," are far more effective at changing the minds of persuadable voters than those of the Romney campaign, according to a poll by USA Today. These changes are at the margins — only 1 in 12 voters admit that the political ads they've seen so far have changed their mind about whom to vote for. But in a campaign this close the margins matter. And among this group of persuadeables, it's not even close: They have swung for Obama over Romney 76 to 16.
Give credit to the gang in Chicago: They're doing the critical work of the summer – defining Romney for voters only now beginning to tune in before he gets a chance to define himself, and keeping disaffected Democrats and independents from flirting with a man who styles himself as a Mr. Fixit. "Mitt Romney's not the solution," says the narrator in one spot, "he's the problem."
It's particularly valuable to convince persuadable voters early in the cycle. If these voters conclude Romney is unacceptable now, they're going to be far more likely to tune out the SuperPAC ad blitz that's coming this fall.
And in case you thought it was too early to go ugly, just check out the Obama camp's latest ad. It not only tags Romney as an outsourcing "pioneeer," but hits a note of Fox-News-worthy nativism by blasting Bain Capital for shipping jobs to "countries including [pregnant pause] China!"
Karl Rove would be proud: