When we weighed in Tuesday on reports that McCain insiders now consider Colorado "gone"--that is, breaking for Barack Obama--there was considerable pushback from the campaign's Crystal City headquarters.
Unfortunately, actions speak louder than words. As a top McCain strategist told CNN's John King earlier this week, "Most of us have a hard time counting on Colorado." Now, it seems, they're not.
A pair of reports released this afternoon reveal that both the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee have decided to drastically slash their ad spending in the Centennial State. According to Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, McCain ran 195 spots this past Monday, down from 243 the previous Monday. Meanwhile, public records show that the RNC cut its ad buys for McCain at Colorado's three biggest television stations by 46 percent over the past week.
The shift likely reflects the fact that Obama has topped the magic 50 percent mark in eight of the last night Colorado polls--a lead that McCain, with only a dozen field offices to Obama's 51, would find it difficult to overturn. The GOP hasn't given up on Colorado entirely; Palin rallied Grand Junction earlier this week and McCain has long planned to visit the state tomorrow. But it's clear that neither the campaign nor the party is feeling particularly high--Rocky-Mountain-style--as the election comes to a close.
A quick reminder about what this means. If Obama hangs onto the 252 electoral votes John Kerry won in 2004, then adds Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado to the Democratic column--all states where Obama averages more than 50 percent in the polls and where McCain staffers have admitted that things look bleak--he'll win 273 electoral votes (and the election). Without Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado, McCain can't afford simply to retain the rest of Bush's map (and/or swing New Hampshire, long thought to be his best pick-up possibility). He'd need to poach Pennsylvania--where the five polls released this week show him trailing by 11.2 percent.
According to Tracey, however, McCain has scaled back his ad spending in the Keystone State as well, running 284 spots this past Monday, down from 336 the previous week. The only places where he's boosted his investments? Virginia and Florida--both Bush states, both leaning (slightly) toward Obama. The way things are going, McCain could erase his rival's leads in both states by Election Day--and Nevada, Missouri, Ohio and North Carolina. It still wouldn't be enough.
We hereby recommend that the senator embark on an all-cheesesteak diet.