Obama pulling out of red states

Barack Obama bragged that he would compete for votes in all 50 states against John McCain, and his fundraising numbers certainly gave the impression that he had the resources to do it.  Yesterday, though, Obama’s campaign abruptly suspended their advertising in several red states, including Georgia, which Team Obama had specifically spotlighted earlier as a possible takeaway:

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has put the brakes on ads that were running in seven states carried by the GOP in the 2004 presidential election, FOX News has learned.

Of the seven states — including Alaska, Georgia, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota — Florida and Virginia are considered key battlegrounds this year. Obama’s decision to stop advertising in those states is raising eyebrows.

Aides to Obama told FOX News that the changes are related to the convention next week. They wouldn’t discuss the specifics of their ad strategy, but the Obama campaign insists that it has not pulled out of those states permanently, calling this a temporary suspension.

When Obama’s campaign took over the Democratic Party earlier this year, it embraced Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy, which is aimed at courting Democrats nationwide. The strategy has generated controversy, though, because many Democrats say it wastes money in states where they have no chance of winning.

The timing of the convention sounds like a convenient excuse.  If anything, that would be the time to push advertising in marginal states, just to keep John McCain’s team off balance.  They need all the exposure they can get to achieve a decent post-convention bounce and to halt the summer-long slide in Obama’s support.

Instead, this looks like a combination of financial and polling reality.  Obama had hoped to make serious gains in red states by the time the conventions started, making further investments attractive.  However, Obama has lost ground in these states despite spending millions in television spots, just as he has lost ground nationwide.

Obama also has a fundraising problem, which seems counterintuitive for a campaign that had two $50 million months in a row.  Unfortunately, they’re burning through their cash a lot faster than McCain, and with a lot less impact.  Also, the RNC is outraising the DNC at such a rate that it’s wiped out the Team Obama advantage, and now Obama has to work fundraisers instead of focusing entirely on his campaign.  He can’t afford to blow cash now on efforts with no payoff.