Show-Me the Money

What does John Kerry know that you don’t? His own weak spots, apparently:

Despite promises to expand the election playing field, John Kerry has reduced his ad spending in Missouri, Arizona and throughout the South in the run-up to the Democratic presidential convention.

The Kerry campaign explains that they’re “not shrinking their political map, only saving resources for later in the campaign and redirecting ad money to hotly contested states like Florida and Ohio.”

I don’t buy it.

First off, the Kerry campaign is practically made of money, and may very well decide to forego federal matching funds (a smart move, if you ask me). A campaign that flush doesn’t cut back in places it thinks it can win, or at least where it thinks it needs to put the other guy on the defensive.

But is it really that big a deal? Mostly, no. Let’s cover the no part first, and bury the yes part at the end.

Not even John Edwards was going to pull any southern states with him. The only one really in the contest is Florida, and maybe West Virginia, Virginia, and Louisiana. And those are weak maybes.

Arizona, thanks to an influx of voters formerly from California and elsewhere, is coming into play. By 2008, I expect Arizona (“The Really Got-Dam Hot State”) to be a real battleground — but it’s not quite one yet.

So I don’t really think much of the fact that Kerry has cut back ad buys in the non-Florida south and AZ.

But Missouri? That’s bad news for Kerry, if his internal polls are telling him to spend less money there. Missouri is the bellwether state, having voted for the winning candidate in every election, bar one, for a hundred years.

If Kerry is in trouble in Missouri — and this story doesn’t necessarily mean that he is — then he’s in trouble, period.