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The Air War Begins

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John McCain is running general election ads in key states. From the (subscription required):

John McCain’s new TV-ad campaign says a lot about how he sees the general-election battle ahead. The message is economics and the state that has seen the most spending on ads so far is Ohio.

Sen. McCain, the Republican candidate for president, is also on the air in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa and West Virginia, all battleground states in recent campaigns. Of those states, President Bush in 2004 carried Ohio, Iowa and West Virginia, and lost Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Sen. McCain has spent $1.5 million in the past 60 days, most of it in the last month, according to data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group. He appears to be ramping up his spending. On Wednesday, his campaign aired $170,000 worth of ads; at that rate, he would spend $1.2 million in a single week….

Ohio has been a swing state in presidential races, and the McCain campaign believes that Mr. Obama won’t be a strong candidate there. The current round is also targeted at two Democratic-leaning states — Pennsylvania and Michigan — where Sen. McCain sees openings. Sen. Obama did poorly in the Pennsylvania primary. He didn’t compete in Michigan’s unsanctioned early contest.

The disciplined focus on these states plus Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico are the key to keeping McCain close through the rise that Obama will experience after he formally secures the nomination right through the denver convention. Most analysts expect Obama to have a double digit lead in the national polls by the time the GOP convenes in Minnesota –if Obama doesn’t, the damage done to his campaign by Ayers, Dohrn, Pfleger, Rezko and Wright will have been even greater than widely suspected– but the real contest will be in the handful of states wherein the campaign has already been begun, at least by John McCain.


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