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Preston on Politics: Obama's 'Shock and Awe'

  • Story Highlights
  • Decision to forgo public funding allows Obama to buy more TV ads
  • Obama will be able to force McCain to compete with ads in state's he's favored in
  • With more money, Obama forced primary rival Clinton to do the same thing
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By Mark Preston
CNN Political Editor
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Barack Obama's decision to forgo public financing for his presidential campaign provides him with the tools needed to implement a "Shock and Awe" television ad strategy designed to paralyze John McCain's campaign, an expert on political TV advertising said in an interview with CNN.

The better-funded Obama is likely to force McCain to spend money on TV ads in Arkansas, Georgia and North Carolina, said Evan Tracey, CNN's consultant on political television advertising. At this point in the campaign, these are states that CNN projects McCain has an edge over the Illinois Democrat, but by no means are these states safely in the Arizona Republican's column.

Obama is expected to raise three or four times the $85 million he would have received from the public financing system, providing him with a huge financial advantage over McCain, who has opted to take the public funds. Video Watch Tracey discuss Obama's advantage »

Tracey, chief operating officer of TNSMI/Campaign Media Analysis Group, notes that Obama used a similar advertising strategy against Hillary Clinton in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. Obama spent $10 million in Pennsylvania on TV ads -- a state Clinton was heavily favored to win and did so by 10 percentage points.

Obama's decision to pour millions of dollars into Pennsylvania forced Clinton to spend more money in the state than she would have wanted to in order to secure a convincing victory. But it came at a cost, because she had less money to dedicate to the remaining primary contests including North Carolina and Indiana. She lost North Carolina by a wide margin and won Indiana only by two percentage points.


Now, as we turn our full attention to the McCain-Obama match up, Tracey explains how the two candidates plan to use television advertising to help win their respective primaries, and predicts their general election strategies heading into November.

And you don't want to miss seeing the deceptive attack ad against Obama that aired prior to the South Dakota primary. While the ad ran only once, Tracey notes it is an example of what we might see from outside interest groups in the coming months.

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