The PJ Tatler

What do the Top 10 Cities for Political Ads Tell Us About the State of the Campaign?

According to data compiled by NBC, the following are the top 10 cities seeing Obama and Romney and related super PAC ad dollars flowing their way.

— Norfolk-Portsmouth (Obama/1500, Romney/1400, Crossroads/730, Priorities/450)

— Roanoke-Lynchburg (Obama/1500, Romney/1500, Crossroads/750)

— Greensboro-High Point (Romney/1400, Obama/1100, Crossroads/780)

— Columbus, OH (Romney/1400, Obama/1000, Crossroads/525, Priorities/365)

— Raleigh-Durham (Obama/1200, Romney/1100, Crossroads/840)

— Richmond-Petersburg (Obama/1100, Romney/1100, Crossroads/340, Priorities/315)

— Cedar Rapids (Obama/1300, Romney/1100, Crossroads/340)

— Charlotte (Romney/1200, Obama/1000, Crossroads/515)

–Cincinnati (Romney/1200, Obama/1000, Crossroads/460)

–Colorado Springs (Obama/1400, Crossroads/630, Priorities/420)

Let’s take a look at the 2008 election results state-by-state.

Let’s mark each Top 10 city with a star in its state. We won’t mark for strict geographic location or for dollar value, but to mark states that contain a Top 10 2012 political ad market, since electoral votes are allocated according to statewide votes.

One pattern immediately jumps out: All of the cities receiving the most ad dollars from the Obama and Romney campaigns and super PACs are in states that Obama won in 2008. Let’s look at the electoral votes implicated in the star pattern: CO 9, IA 6, NC 15, OH 18, and VA 13, total 61 electoral votes. Those 61 EVs are not enough to flip the election to Romney, but Obama won a few states that he is either unlikely to win in 2012, or are in play in 2012 in ways they were not in 2008. Those states include Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire and Florida, which add up to 76 EVs. Pennsylvania is also in play, with 20 EVs on the line. I don’t see a McCain 2008 state in play for Obama. Then factor in one last fact: Romney and the RNC outraised Obama and the DNC by more than $16 million in May. It’s possible that the money race has flipped permanently in favor of Romney and the RNC.

The message of all this seems to be, Obama isn’t working, but he is being forced to play defense all over the map.