Michigan Forecast: Stormy, With Blizzards of Attack Ads Covering the State
Attention, Santorum headquarters in Michigan: INCOMING!
The pro-Romney group Restore Our Future is sinking $472,283 into Michigan for the week of Feb. 14-20, nearly tripling the super PAC’s TV investment in the state so far.
ROF has also purchased airtime in West Virginia and put new money into Ohio and Arizona, where it was already on the air. The source said the super PAC continues to buy time in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia, where ROF started making reservations this afternoon.
The buying is not complete, and we don’t know whether the ads are pro-Romney or negative spots targeting his opponents. But already this looks like the outline of an air campaign on a scale we’ve not yet seen in the 2012 race, aimed at bringing down the hammer of Romney’s resources against his opponents on a national level.
Color me skeptical that a drown-him-in-negative-ads approach will work for Romney against Santorum the way it did against Newt Gingrich in Florida. Whether or not Rick Santorum is most conservatives’ choice in the GOP presidential primary, he’s built up a lot of goodwill in a lot of corners of the Right. He hasn’t alienated as many by taping a television ad with Nancy Pelosi, or the triple marriage baggage, or the runaway ego, bombastic self-promotion, and tumultuous time leading the party. Whether or not people intend to vote for Santorum, a lot of Republicans like him, and won’t be eager to see him trashed, again and again, in every commercial break.
Nate Silver notes that “negative ads are no way to increase your base” and notes that one of Romney’s problems is that he seems to have a significant number of tentative, wishy-washy potential supporters: “Among the Republicans that the polling firm classified as definite voters, Mr. Santorum’s lead was larger, 11 points over Mr. Romney. However, Mr. Romney led Mr. Santorum 33 to 22 among voters the pollsters classified as more marginal. Ordinarily, a candidate should benefit from having the support of more definite voters — and most polling firms give them the bulk of the weight in their turnout models, which is why Mr. Santorum leads the poll over all. The universe of indefinite voters is broader. But those votes don’t count for anything unless the candidate can get the voters to the polls.”