McCain Spending in West Virginia

In 2004, the race for the White House in West Virginia wasn't even close, with George W. Bush topping John Kerry by a 56 percent to 43 percent margin. Looking through all of the numbers from 2004, Bush ran stronger in West Virginia than he did in about a third of the other states he carried that year. So why, then, is John McCain dumping money in the state -- particularly at a time when he has been unable to come close to meeting the fundraising machines that are the Obama and Clinton campaigns?

John McCain's campaign is spending $1.135M on ad buys between May 6 and June 16.

Per my media buyer source, here are the states McCain's team is targeting:

Ohio -- $483,184

Pennsylvania -- $228,159

Michigan -- $227,978

Iowa -- $107,940

West Virginia -- $84,275

There's a bit of offense going on there, with McCain spending in Michigan, a state Kerry won with 51 percent of the vote (and thus a state that tends to lean about 3 points more Democratic than the nation as a whole in presidential elections). Pennsylvania, too, is a state in which Kerry bested Bush in 2004, though Pennsylvania is more of a swing state and, as such, McCain's move to advertise there does not come as a terrible surprise.

But West Virginia? McCain is devoting about 7.5 percent -- or about one of every thirteen dollars -- of his total ad buy between the beginning of May and the end of June in West Virginia, a state that wasn't even really competitive in 2004? It sure makes me wonder if the McCain pollsters know something I don't know about the state's willingness to punch the Democratic presidential ballot in 2008...

Tags: 2008, John McCain, West Virginia (all tags)

Comments

45 Comments

Clinton

I don't mean to sound controversial, but the only reason they would spend in WV is because of the contingent possibility that Clinton is our nominee.

Obama will lose West Virginia by 20 points without McCain spending a dime there.  And it's not a state having any media markets that spill over into other states.  

by BPK80 2008-05-30 07:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

Then thats a big waste of $84,000.

by BlueGAinDC 2008-05-30 07:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

I don't think McCain has the cash to plan that far ahead yet.  i agree that Obama is not going to win WV in the general, but I also doubt that McCain's camp is spending too much time working on strategy to go against Clinton.  With that said, I have no idea why he is spending money there.

by Xris 2008-05-30 07:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

If Clinton wins the nomination, she's well ahead in West Virginia and it will be fiercely contested.  

That's the only explanation for this spending.  It's not that the GOP necessarily thinks Clinton will win, but they must believe it's a possibility worth being prepared for.  

But the other ad buys militate in favor of recognizing an Obama candidacy.  McCain knows that if Obama wins the nomination, he doesn't have to spend a dime in Florida.  

by BPK80 2008-05-30 07:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

Your argument makes more sense now that I think about it.  When I took another look at the ad buy I realized it wasn't all that much.  

But while I don't think we will win Florida in November, I also think you are underestimating Obama there.  Latest polls have him down anywhere from 4 to 10 and that is with a lot of angry Clinton supporters.  He should be able to close the gap, but probably not enough to win.

by Xris 2008-05-30 07:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

I know it's not a blowout on par with Utah and Idaho.  The problem with Florida is that when you see losses consistently in the 10-15% range vis-a-vis McCain in a given state, you can recognize an uphill climb but one that may be accomplished with a lot of effort.

The problem with Florida is that it so hugely populated.  It would take Herculean efforts to close each 1 or 2% in the gap there, in comparison to a state like New Mexico or Iowa which have between 1/10th and 1/20th of Florida's population.  

by BPK80 2008-05-30 09:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

That's how percentages work, though. Yeah, it's a huge state. But you can move huge amounts of public opinion in a big state by campaigning there and by buying paid advertising. Obama fortunately has the money to do so. He never campaigned for the primary and so many Floridians know very little about him except through the national media.

Florida will be tough. Don't get me wrong. But it's hardly in the bag for McCain. The economy is so wretched all over the country, and the home foreclosure crisis is particularly acute in Florida, that McCain can't rest anywhere - certainly not Florida.

by elrod 2008-05-30 09:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

It's just not worth it strategically.  He would have to spend almost half of his time and money resources to make Florida even remotely competitive.  It's not a question of just giving a handful of speeches in Tampa and Orlando.  The time and money spent there on a longshot chance in Florida is time and money lost in Ohio (another uphill climb), Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, NM, NV, etc.

From the looks of where the RBC is leaning, it looks like he'll have to explain all fall why he won't fully seat Florida while John McCain intends to seat FL at 100%.

Numerically, based on polls right now, Obama has as good a chance of carrying Florida as he does of carrying Texas.  He's a bit stronger than most Dems in Texas and a lot weaker than most Dems in Florida.  

by BPK80 2008-05-30 09:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

Obama, if he is the nominee, is probably toast in Florida without Clinton on the ticket.  As for Michigan, Clinton hasn't polled well in Michigan against McCain either.  The X factor in why we very well could be screwed in Michigan is Kwame Kirkpatrick; we'll need an outrageous turnout from Detroit to win this state and it's questionable whether that can happen with the Notorious one preoccupied with legal matters.

Could the reasoning for the West Virginia ad buy be that McCain is trying to get a head start to counter the possibility of Clinton as Obama's VP?  I doubt it but perhaps McCain's internals show that Clinton on the ticket makes Obama somewhat competitive in the Appalachia region.

by Blazers Edge 2008-05-30 08:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

That's quite plausible.  

by BPK80 2008-05-30 09:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

Obama will make McCain spend in Florida.  It isn't a big enough gap to take it for granted.  Obama will try and make McCain spend cash wherever there is even a remote chance, so that the money can't be redirected elsewhere.

by libertyleft 2008-05-30 09:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

I don't think so.

The state is so heavily populated that each 1% there represents approx. 65,000 voters.  To put that into context, 2% of the vote in General Election Florida is approximately equal to the 41% of the vote (146,000) spread that Hillary won in West Virginia.  

by BPK80 2008-05-30 09:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

And, surprise surprise, McCain is spending in West Virginia like there will be a fight...because Obama is going to spend there too.

That is the beauty of the fund raising advantage he has.  It's much easier to justify lost causes like that to bleed your opponent when you aren't in debt like some other people we might mention.

by libertyleft 2008-05-30 09:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

I don't see Obama spending in West Virginia.  Most Obama supporters even acknowledge it's not on the Obama map.  Instead of wasting money there, he'd be better served by investing in a competitive house or senate race.  

by BPK80 2008-05-30 09:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

It's not wasting money, it's wasting McCain's money, which is already happening.

by libertyleft 2008-05-30 09:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

McCain won't spend there unless Clinton ends up as part of the ticket (either Pres or VP).  Another poster raised the point that a Clinton Vice Presidency may also be a consideration in the GOP's premature defense plays.  

Believe me, there are dozens of states better poisted to "waste McCain's money" than West Virginia if Obama leads the ticket.  

by BPK80 2008-05-30 10:24PM | 0 recs
He's already spent there

nt

by libertyleft 2008-05-30 11:08PM | 0 recs
Re: He's already spent there

Yes, and my point was that it was not a "waste" of money as the contributor here suggested.  It was targeted.  Spending in Vermont would be a waste of money.

by BPK80 2008-05-31 12:04AM | 0 recs
Re: He's already spent there

No more than WV.

by libertyleft 2008-05-31 02:22AM | 0 recs
Re: He's already spent there

The spending in WV contemplates the possibility of Hillary Clinton appearing on the ticket, either as VP or nominee.  It's the only logical explanation.  

by BPK80 2008-05-31 03:24AM | 0 recs
Re: He's already spent there

None of his other actions suggest that, it's silly you mention it.  All McCain does is praise Hillary now.

by libertyleft 2008-05-31 03:34PM | 0 recs
Re: He's already spent there

Smart.  The primary has given him the best opportunity to siphon votes away from the Democrats as could be imagined under the circumstances.  

by BPK80 2008-06-01 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

You're sort of making two contradictory points at once.

If McCain is spending in WV because of the outside chance of HRC wresting away the nomination, wouldn't he also be spending in FL, where HRC is supposed to be competitive?

by NeverNude 2008-05-31 02:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton

I said they seem to be viewing Obama as the likely nominee with some contingency in mind that Hillary may get it (or VP).  Perhaps they felt that contingency justified a small buy in West Virginia but not an investment in the prohibitively expensive Florida media markets.  Or perhaps McCain is banking on picking a VP like Crist and relying on that to ipso facto win the state.  

by BPK80 2008-05-31 03:26AM | 0 recs
John McCain likes wasting money?

I mean against Obama he could be dead and beat Obama there.

by Student Guy 2008-05-30 07:19PM | 0 recs
Wow, they're stupid. Either they think

Clinton's going to be the nominee or they think Obama can win West Virginia in something other than an absolute landslide situation

by bobdoleisevil 2008-05-30 07:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow, they're stupid. Either they think

Exactly - it seems that they think Hillary will be the nominee with something higher than the 9% probability Intrade gives her. Otherwise, this is a pretty expensive head-fake.

Of course, it could be well worth their money if the intent of the head-fake is to get us to ask if they know something we don't...

by Exhausted Pennsylvanian 2008-05-30 07:49PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Spending in West Virginia

Whoever is running McCain's media buys has a nephew who owns a newspaper in West Virginia?

by letterc 2008-05-30 07:23PM | 0 recs
Let McCain spend his money in West Virginia

Obama ain't going to win there...LOL!

McCain is STUPID because Obama may put other southern states in play as in Georgia, Mississippi, and Virginia.

by puma 2008-05-30 07:26PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain in West Virginia

If McCain is buying ad time in Wheeling, those signals reach deep into Pennsylvania and Ohio. The station in Bridgeport-Clarksburg reaches into SW Pennsylvania, too. The Charleston- Huntington TV market includes about a dozen counties in eastern Kentucky, and another half dozen in Ohio.

These are cheap markets where a $100,000 will go a long way, reaching into neighboring battleground states, as well as covering W Va itself.

It's not a bad plan for McSame to try to solidify his strength now in some of the Appalachian areas where Obama showed weakness in the primaries. And as I recall, McSame wasn't so strong in those states' Repub primaries himself.

by Woody 2008-05-30 07:31PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain in West Virginia

This argument makes a whole lot of sense.

by Exhausted Pennsylvanian 2008-05-30 07:50PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain in West Virginia

Ohio, yes, a bit - the Parkersburg station gets a few counties north of the river, as do the Charleston-Huntington stations.

But WBOY in Clarksburg is barely viewed even in the closest adjoining PA county. And the Wheeling-Steubenville stations haven't been on cable in the (heavily cabled) Pittsburgh market in years.

If McCain is trying to reach PA and OH, he'll have to spend the $$$ to buy the stations in those states. There's no other way to do it.

by ipsos 2008-05-30 08:39PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain in West Virginia

But he probably figures he could reach some PA and OH counties on the cheap. McCain doesn't have a lot of money to spend in the Pittsburgh market so WV will help seep in. Of course, I don't know how a handful of blah ads on a local TV station are going to make a difference.

by elrod 2008-05-30 09:29PM | 0 recs
Just a guess

Ad buys in strategic places gets you coverage in potentially 6 states - Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, and of course West Virginia itself...

by SaveElmer 2008-05-30 07:46PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Spending in West Virginia

What polling don't you know of?  If Hillary were the nominee, West Virginia goes blue.  Of course McCain would spend there as there is no Democratic nominee yet.

by DaveOinSF 2008-05-30 07:53PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Spending in West Virginia

I don't think West Virginia is absolutely money with Clinton as the nominee; Obama couldn't use her stance on guns against her for obvious reasons.  He very well could have depressed her turnout if he continued to go negative against her.  McCain would not be as restrained.  The last poll taken was a SurveyUSA poll in late February showing her up five points.

West Virginia is to Hillary what Colorado is to Obama; the analogy isn't perfect as recent polls now suggest that Hillary has a puncher's chance against McCain in Colorado while Obama is nowhere near McCain in West Virginia but I think you get the point.  The same analogy game can be played with Iowa and Arkansas.

by Blazers Edge 2008-05-30 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Spending in West Virginia

I agree here. West Virginia has no longer a Democratic state. Not only is it cultural issues that would kill ANY Democrat there, but the coal issue has turned many voters off to the Democrats at the national level.

Clinton would struggle in WV, no matter what the polls say now.

by elrod 2008-05-30 09:31PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Spending in West Virginia

I still think Hillary would have been able to pull West Virginia out in the end.  One possible explanation for this ad buy that I posed earlier in this thread is that McCain's internals show a close race with Obama with Clinton as the VP choice.  Would she really be that popular with dems in West Virginia?  I doubt it but this ad buy seems to be a waste of money, though Republicans have never been concerned very much with fiscal discipline.

by Blazers Edge 2008-05-30 09:46PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Spending in West Virginia

It doesn't surprise me that McCain is spending in West Virginia.  Here, in a nutshell, is the politics of the state.  It's poor (and so people have sympathy for the traditional Democratic pitch of economic populism).  But West Virginia's voters are also very much into Jesus, guns, law and order, traditional values, and other things like this (which the Republicans, rather successfully, have exploited by making the pitch that the Dems are against these things).

Some states, can we agree, are unwinnable by each party.  West Virginia is one of those states, though, where the party which can get out its message wins.  Don't think Clinton ever had a lock.  Don't think Obama is destined to lose there.  And I also don't think this is a sign of weakness on McCain's part.  The GOP knows what states they have to win.  Sinking a huge amount of money into Pennsylvania and Michigan would be a sign they didn't know what they were doing.

by IncognitoErgoSum 2008-05-30 08:16PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Spending in West Virginia

West Virginia isn't possible for Obama.  The state went from almost Dem in 2000 to a 13% win for GWB in 2004 against John Kerry.  There's no way Obama is going to close Kerry's gap in West Virginia when if anything, he's an even more extreme version (culturally) of John Kerry.  

67 to 26%

That's almost unheard of in a contested primary.  And that's among Democrats.  Something like 50% of WV Dems say they'd back McCain over Obama.  I don't think he's going to offset that with gains among WV Republicans.  

Sorry but any way you slice it, West Virginia just doesn't like Barack Obama.  

by BPK80 2008-05-30 10:30PM | 0 recs
Just a FYI

There have been 15 (31%) two way primary contests this year alone where the winner had at least 65% of the votes.

On the flip side if you are just looking at the low end, in 8 (16%) of the two way races the loser has lost with fewer than 30% of the vote.

Or if you are looking strictly are the margin, there have been 7 (14%) contests with 40%+ margins of win.

Uncommon yeah, not quite unheard of.

cheers

/nitpick

by notedgeways 2008-05-31 12:47AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Spending in West Virginia

I respectfully disagree. Obama has the potential to win here if he campaigns here. He has been endorsed by both W.Va. Dem. Sens. and both Dem. Reps. Despite Clinton's electoral margin, she hasn't picked up any of the elected super-delegates in the state.

Obama's been a huge supporter of so-called "clean coal" technology (much to my chagrin). There is nothing that makes Obama inherently unelected in this state. In the primary, voters knew the Clintons better and preferred Hillary.

Still, voters are ready for change--they don't want four more years of Bush. If Obama spends some time visiting in person, he can win the state.

by WVaBlue 2008-05-31 11:18AM | 0 recs
How big is Clinton's ad buy?

any info on how much Clinton is spending ?

by Al Rodgers 2008-05-30 08:49PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Spending in West Virginia

I know it's early and all, but looking at the above, what I wondered was.. they are only spending one million for 6 weeks of advertising? Could this be an indication of paltry fundraising? Yeah it'll get outrageous by the time the GE really kicks in, but when we have seen the monthly fundraising numbers of Obama, and Clinton as well, a million seems awfully sparse especially for five states.

My meager opinion, is that these are just ad buys to keep his name out there in people's awareness, not to actually sway voters.

by notedgeways 2008-05-31 12:28AM | 0 recs
So then why not FL?

For those who argue that McCain is spending in WV because of the chance of HRC being the nominee, please explain why he wouldn't also be spending in FL, which should be a battleground state in a HRC-JSM election.

by NeverNude 2008-05-31 02:03AM | 0 recs

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