Obama investment in Florida not paying off

Adam Smith:

Barack Obama could be on the verge of falling out of contention in Florida.

Despite spending an estimated $8-million on campaign ads in America's biggest battleground state and putting in place the largest Democratic campaign organization ever in Florida, Obama has lost ground over the summer. Florida has moved from a toss-up state to one that clearly leans toward John McCain, fueling speculation about how much longer the Democratic nominee will continue investing so heavily in the state.

... Obama allies say he has about 350 paid staffers in the state and about 50 field offices, including in places not known as fertile ground for Democrats, such as Sun City Center, Lake City and Sebring.

But for all the attention to Florida from the Obama campaign, there's little tangible evidence it's paying off.

He is farther behind in the state than John Kerry was at this point in 2004, even though McCain began buying Florida TV ads only last week. By this time in 2004, the Bush-Cheney campaign had spent $13-million on Florida TV. In the rolling average of Florida polls compiled by the Web site RealClearPolitics.com, Obama has never taken the lead over McCain in Florida, and the latest average shows him behind by 5 percentage points. They were tied in early August.

Four Florida polls came out this week, with one showing a tied race, the others showing McCain leading by 5 to 8 percentage points.

"They've had everything going for them — momentum, enthusiasm, money, a complicit national press, a stiff wind at his back for a long time, and he hasn't been able pull ahead in Florida,'' said Republican strategist Alberto Martinez of Tallahassee. "I think Florida is one of those states that's taken off the board pretty soon, as they start focusing resources on states they can win."

...

Democrats are still whistling past the graveyard putting on a competitive face on a bad situation. In some ways Florida is like a lot of states where Obama spent a lot of money and still lost in the primaries. His ads are not buying votes. With McCain finally devoting some resources in Florida he should be able to plant his flag there in November.

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