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Campaigns Aim to Spend Wisely in Shifting Set of Battleground States

BY Admin  August 5, 2008 at 4:06 PM EST

Sen. John McCain speaking in Newport, Mich.

At that time, the candidate must enact the spending limits imposed by his agreement to accept public financing.

In June, the Arizona senator out-spent his famously well-funded Democratic opponent, shelling out $27 million to Democratic Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s $25.7 million, according to Congressional Quarterly.

McCain has also put more money into advertising during the Olympics, purchasing a $6 million media package that trumps Obama’s $5 million buy, AdAge.com reported.

While Obama caught up with his Republican rival in July spending, some politics watchers are noting new trends in exactly where the Democratic presidential hopeful has decided to invest campaign dollars.

The Illinois senator has recently chosen to focus on traditional Republican strongholds that all show signs of recent Democratic growth. According to the Associated Press’s Liz Sidoti, Obama has been spending time, money and staff power in Alaska, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina and Virginia.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe says efforts are being focused on those states because, while they have not voted Democratic in several election cycles but they all show the potential for political change. For example, Obama may be popular with Indiana’s large black community in the regions bordering Chicago. Georgia and North Carolina also have rapidly growing populations that may sway the states’ political leanings.

The Obama camp spent $7.7 million on a five-week TV ad blitz in all seven states compared to McCain’s $1.58 million spent only in Virginia and North Dakota, according to the Wisconsin Ad Project.

“We have the organizational ability and the financial ability to compete there,” Plouffe told the AP.

Despite Obama’s efforts, McCain strategist Steve Schmidt says those at the campaign “feel very confident about holding these states.”

However, some political analysts see Obama’s spending as a strategic flexing of his financial muscles, forcing McCain to go on the defense in areas he wouldn’t normally have to defend and thereby stretching his resources thinner in other states.

Plouffe denies this motive, saying that the states are critical and “there is not a head fake among them.”

While Obama amplifies spending in potential battleground states, it’s McCain who is seeing increased popularity in more traditionally undecided states.

According to Quinnipiac University’s most recent poll, McCain’s popularity has seen a rise in both Colorado and Minnesota, two states the Obama camp may be counting on in November.

“If Obama ends up losing a very close race by failing to capture winnable states like Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio or Michigan, his campaign will receive a tremendous amount of criticism for spending so much money, time, and effort trying to flip these seven states ,” Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics wrote, adding the prediction that “if they don’t start seeing more of a return on their investment soon,” the campaign will “bow to historical reality at some point and shift the resources elsewhere.”