Tag Archives: Mitt Romney

Candidates’ Spending Spree Could Get Tiresome

Michael Bitzer

Both the Romney and Obama campaigns raked in substantial amounts of money for May. For Obama, it was $60 million, while Romney and the Republicans were able to collect more than $76 million, the first time the GOP had topped the president and the Democrats in fundraising.

A constant question asked when we talk about money is, where does it all go? According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 2008’s presidential contest saw $1.6 billion spent; 39 percent, or $653 million, went to media costs, which included broadcast, internet, and print, along with media consultants and “miscellaneous” media. 

The second largest percentage (31 percent, or $522.4 million) went to administrative costs, such as salaries and benefits, travel, postage and shipping, rent, supplies, equipment, and other daily expenses. 

So far, the Center for Responsive Politics reports that $91.2 million has gone to media expenditures for the 2012 presidential campaign, with only administrative costs ($123.2 million) seeing a bigger part of the expenditures. 

$91.2 million may seem like a lot for battling on the air, but consider a battleground state like North Carolina and the challenges the Obama and Romney campaigns will face in conducting their advertising campaign.

Stretching from Manteo on the coast to Murphy in the mountains, North Carolina covers 474 miles and 10 different media markets.  The below map gives some idea of the different markets that cover the state:

While the most notable markets — Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and the Triad — cover a substantial part of the state, it is also out-of-state markets that candidates have to advertise in to reach Tar Heel voters.

For example, to cover most of the mountains, candidates have to go to Greenville and Spartanburg in the upstate of South Carolina.  In the northeastern corner of the state, candidates go into the Norfolk, Virginia, market to reach those voters.

In recent analyses of the hottest TV markets (based on advertising points and also expenditures) for the presidential contest, five North Carolina markets — both in-state and out-of-state — made the list out of the top eleven:

  1. Norfolk-Portsmouth, VA
  2. Columbus, OH
  3. Cedar Rapids, IA
  4. Roanoke-Lynchburg, VA
  5. Charlotte, NC
  6. Richmond, VA
  7. Greensboro-High Point, NC
  8. Cincinnati, OH
  9. Des Moines, IA
  10. Greenville-Spartanburg, SC
  11. Raleigh-Durham, NC

To see the money rolling into these media markets this early reminds me of what happens with Christmas advertising — we start to see Santa well before Halloween nowadays.  With the traditionally accepted start of the general campaign starting on Labor Day, we shouldn’t be surprised that candidates are coming out with their own versions of tricks and treats for the voters.

The question is: will we be sick and scared of their candy by the time Halloween rolls around?


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Can the Presidential Race Be That Tight This Early? Yup.

Michael Bitzer

Gallup Polling released a great set of data on their weekly tracking of the presidential race, with a 46-46 tie between the Democrat and Republican.  For the most part, it tracks with what other polls are saying about the Obama-Romney contest: with five months to go, it’s pretty much tied up with very few folks undecided. 

This isn’t really that unusual, considering what happened in 2008. Nationally, those who identified with one of the two major parties said they voted for their party’s nominee 90 percent of the time.  Among the independents, they split 52-44 percent for Obama.

In North Carolina, we saw the same general trend among Tar Heel partisans (90 percent of self-identified Democrats voted for Obama, 95 percent of self-identified Republicans voted for McCain), but independents went 60-39 percent for McCain.

The key to 2008, though, was that Democrats saw their share of the electorate increase to 42 percent from 39 percent from 2004, while Republicans dropped from 40 percent to 31 percent.

So it’s going to be a contest of “who shows up,” as it always is. But should we expect anything different as to the partisan polarization (some would say allegiance) this year?  Early indications appear to be a resounding “no” to that question.

A great resource to track the various polls (with links) is via Real Clear Politics website, with a page devoted to just North Carolina polls on the presidential race.

In consolidating various polls and arranging them in chronological order (see Figure 1), we see some general patterns emerge since the beginning of 2012. 

Various North Carolina Polls of Support of Democrats for Obama, Republicans for Romney, Independents for Obama and Independents for Romney since January 2012.

Among Republican support for Romney, it appears that his “presumptive” status as the nominee was strong at the beginning of the year in a head-to-head match-up with the president, and only intensified as he racked up wins towards claiming the 1,144 delegates for the nomination. 

By pulling nearly 90 percent of Tar Heel Republican support in May, Romney is dead-on when it comes to matching John McCain’s support by the party faithful four years ago. 

Among Democrats, their support is not as intense as it was four years ago, and that is to be expected. Expectations were, to say the least, overly high with Obama, and some let-down is to be expected, and we’re still a hot summer away from the traditional start of the general campaign.

But the recent release of the top 10 hottest advertising markets (from May 28 to June 24) shows that N.C. has the early hallmarks of the “battleground” status: Greensboro-High Point at #3, Raleigh-Durham #5, and Charlotte #8—and if you include the #1 Norfolk-Portsmouth VA covering the Northeast portion of the state, you’ve got a significant portion of the state seeing ads between Obama and Romney now.

Maybe the twists and turns of the independents could be a reason why both camps are spending heavily in North Carolina.  With some room to grow for both Romney and Obama (and apparently indecisiveness as well on indies part), it will be interesting to track these three groups in the polls over the next few months (and I’ll post the same chart over the next couple of months).

My prediction: not much movement in Republicans for Romney, some potential shoring up among Democrats for Obama. And, as usual, independent voters will make or break how North Carolina will swing this fall.

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Romney Kicks Off General Election Campaign In NC

Mitt Romney addresses supporters in Charlotte on April 18. Photo: Tanner Latham

With Mitt Romney giving a “prebuttal” speech with Bank of America Stadium in the background, we can now officially signal the beginning of the general campaign in North Carolina.

But even though North Carolina’s May primary won’t be as active as four years ago, it appears the groundwork for November is well underway, either in terms of mobilization (as in “get out the vote”) or staking a presence in the state. 

The warning signals are all there.  First, there is the quiet “field operations” of the Obama campaign’s organization within the state. With no battle for the nomination (unlike four years ago), the president’s campaign has used the time to lay the foundation for a real contest in North Carolina by staffing various field offices around the state.

This organization mirrors what Obama was able to do in North Carolina with the late primary battle in 2008. By having an extensive ground game and organization established months before the 2008 general election, the Obama campaign was able to turn a ruby-red Republican state in 2004 to a deep-hue of purple toss-up.

By not having a competitive primary challenge on May 8th (perhaps Gingrich can make Romney work for the state, but one would have believe the overall deal is done with his presumptive nomination), Romney needs to begin making North Carolina competitive.  He can’t afford the same mistake as the McCain campaign did four years ago and take the state for granted.

With the “prebuttal” address and by using the backdrop where Obama will accept his party’s nomination, Romney is making a claim in the heart of the Democrat’s Tar Heel strategy—straight into Charlotte as the location of the Democrat’s national convention.

Romney’s commitment to raise $800 million in conjunction with the national party means the presumptive Republican presidential nominee will have the resources to enable a Republican foundation constructed in various competitive states—including North Carolina.

While a lot of the techniques and strategies of modern campaigning goes unnoticed by the larger electorate early in the campaign season, the hints are already there. Welcome to the general election North Carolina — it’s gonna be a bumpy ride to November.

WFAE: Romney Makes A ‘Prebuttal’

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With Nomination In Grasp, Romney Still Has Work To Do

Michael Bitzer

As the old saying goes about North Carolina weather, “if you don’t like it, wait 24 hours—it’ll change.” The same can be true about politics as well.  Within a few hours of Public Policy Polling releasing its latest results on the GOP presidential battle in the Tar Heel state, Rick Santorum announced he was suspending his campaign. 

Now, all that is left for Romney to become his party’s nominee is the collection of 1,144 GOP delegates heading into Tampa.  But there are several questions left lingering about the contest, and North Carolina would have been an interesting experiment if Santorum had stayed in.

What does the GOP base do now?

As noted in some early postings, the GOP base — especially evangelical voters, Tea Party supporters, voters who are very conservative, and Southerners — didn’t get the memo that they needed to line up behind Mitt.  In fact, it was “anyone but Mitt” for these core constituencies in the Republican Party.

As one observer noted, evangelical voters are split into two camps with Santorum’s news: One group that really liked what the former Pennsylvania senator was addressing in his campaign, and the other that really doesn’t trust what the former Massachusetts governor was attempting to address in his campaign.

Does Newt see another resurrection of his attempt to be the “true voice of conservatives?”

Both Santorum and Gingrich were splitting the core of the Republican Party, much to each man’s detriment against Romney.  But the bigger question now is, does the Republican core decide “we’ve had enough” and simply decide to fall in line with the nominee (who has the bigger war chest, the most delegates, and has already begun his general campaign against President Obama)? 

In trying to read the tea leaves of the upcoming North Carolina primary, the PPP poll may give some hint about the willingness of the core constituents to follow the standard Republican operating procedure of “fall in line.”

Before Santorum made his announcement, PPP’s poll found Romney with a slight lead over Santorum in North Carolina, 34 to 30 percent.  But a few interesting breakouts might give some hints as to what might happen on May 8th.

Among those voters who are strongly committed to their candidate, Romney has a substantial lead among the four candidates, with 58 percent of his supporters committed to voting for him, compared to only 42 percent  of Santorum’s supporters. 

Of those who identify as members of the Tea Party, Romney was close to Santorum (32 to 30 percent ), but when PPP dropped Newt Gingrich out of the race, the spread went to 51 percent  for Santorum to 36 percent  for Romney.

Gingrich was certainly acting like a spoiler for Santorum, but now that things are reversed and Newt is the one viable anti-Mitt candidate left standing (even though Newt’s campaign is deeply in debt and on life-support), will those Tea Party supporters still go for anyone but Mitt, or realize that the race is all-but-over and fall in line?

In asking about the candidate’s favorability, Romney came in third with 58 percent  favorability rating, behind Santorum (74 percent ) and Gingrich (67 percent ) among Tea Party supporters.

Among evangelicals, Romney also came in third with a 51 percent  favorability rating, while Santorum and Gingrich had 67 percent  and 54 percent  favorability.

When asked who evangelicals would vote for in the four-way contest, Romney was able to pull 32 percent  to Santorum’s 34 percent . But when the field narrowed to 3, Romney only gained four percentage points, while Santorum went to 42 percent  of evangelical support.

Among those voters who identify themselves as “very conservative,” Romney is actually in positive territory when it comes to them liking him, with 51 percent . He hasn’t been able to get that much support in past primaries among this key group.  But in comparison to Santorum’s favorability of 80 percent  and Gingrich’s favorability of 63 percent , Romney still comes in third with this important group.

In the four-way matchup, Romney garners only 26 percent  of the “very conservative” vote, compared to 40 percent  for Santorum.  In a three-way matchup, Romney only gains 3 points, something that still has to be a concern for his campaign.

Should Romney just skip past the Tar Heel State?

Now that we don’t have a realistically competitive primary in North Carolina, all attention will probably shift to the constitutional amendent on marriage and the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

But the Romney campaign shouldn’t write off coming to North Carolina. After all, he needs this state in the fall. He could use this contest to solidify his conservative credentials to a still skeptical core group within the GOP. 

Another benefit to actively campaigning in North Carolian is to organize his ground forces, because we know that the Obama campaign has already begun to do so.

In fact, why not make the beginning of the general campaign start right here in North Carolina?

If Romney decides to take North Carolina for granted on his way to Tampa, just remember that old saying about weather: It could change on him in 24 hours or less.

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