Unlike in his first campaign, when Obama held a significant financial advantage over Republican John McCain, his resources in the current contest are more evenly matched with those of Mitt Romney, the GOP nominee. That is in large part because of the spending by independent interest groups, which favor Republicans.
Obamaâ€™s campaignÂ has placed adsÂ in fewer than 60 media markets nationwide, skipping some expensive areas such as Philadelphia and Washington, compared with 80 in the early weeks of the 2008 general-election campaign. In 2008, Obama began running ads against McCain in late June.
The presidentâ€™s campaign has put an increased focus on Ohio, which has become the most competitive big prize in the race. Four of the most saturated media markets for presidential advertising are in Ohio, and Obamaâ€™s campaign has spent more on broadcast advertising there than in Florida, another critical swing state with about twice the population.
That is in contrast to Obamaâ€™s spending in the opening weeks of 2008, when Florida received nearly twice as much advertising money as Ohio, according to estimates of spending from Kantar Media/CMAG.
â€œThey can win without Ohio, but if they win Ohio they will be reelected,â€ said Jim Jordan, a Democratic strategist. He and others say that if Obama can repeat his 2008 victory in Ohio, he would need to secure just two or three of the other roughly half-dozen most competitiveÂ swing states.â€œThereâ€™s just no way Romney can win without flipping Ohio,â€ Jordan said.
Obama campaign officials said they have not emphasized television advertising, choosing instead to focus on face-to-face interactions with voters.
â€œWe believe that being on the ground in communities all across the country is where the real conversations about the choice in this election happen,â€ said Katie Hogan, a campaign spokeswoman. â€œThis campaign set out to expand the map in 2011, making as many routes to victory as possible.â€
The campaign also has made Ohio the biggest target of an expanded voter-mobilization effort, opening 25 field offices in the state funded with most of the $2.6Â million transferred to the Ohio state party, more funding than any other part of the country has received.