Romney campaign releases 15 new commercials in eight states

Last week, by formally accepting his party’s presidential nomination, Mitt Romney became legally eligible to spend tens of millions of dollars’ worth of general-election money.

Today, his campaign started spending it — with a blitz of 15 new television commercials running in eight states.

Different weights for different states

Simple logic would suggest that most of the commercials would run in the vulnerable states with the most Electoral College votes. But then, since when has presidential politics had anything to do with simple logic?

Virginia (13 electoral votes) gets the most spots — three — while Florida, with more than twice the Electoral College clout (29 votes), gets just two.

Here’s how the other six states break out: Two spots each for Colorado (9), Iowa (6), North Carolina (15) and Ohio (18); just one each for Nevada (6) and New Hampshire (4).

(I know, I know, number of spots produced isn’t the same as amount of air time bought, but the two do usually correlate.)

Generic messages, specific language

All 15 spots begin identically — with convention footage of Romney’s acceptance speech, in which he asks, “This president can ask us to be patient? This president can tell us it was someone else’s fault? But this president cannot tell us that you’re better off today than when he took office.”

From there, it starts getting less generic, with a super and voice-over saying, “Here in [state name] we’re not better off under Obama.”

The middles of the commercials spell out why.

Only in two cases — Florida, with the importance of residential real estate to the state’s economy, and Nevada, with the nation’s highest unemployment rate — are the commercials aimed specifically at one state.

Another 12, with change of [state name] and statistics, could run almost anywhere. And one, a Virginia commercial dealing with energy development could run in a handful of other states as well.

One of those dozen commercials, whose middle deals with losses resulting from defense-budget cuts and sequestrations, is running in Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.

Another, discussing how government overregulation kills small-business jobs, runs in Colorado and Iowa.

A third, about government regulatory, trade and tax policies are killing manufacturing jobs, runs in North Carolina and Ohio.

A New Hampshire commercial about high taxes and energy costs could run anywhere. So could an Iowa spot about runaway national debt and deficit spending. As could a Virginia :30 about how tax cuts can help the lives of middle-class families.

Two different approaches

The Romney campaign obviously believes that adding specific [state name]s and statistics to commercials will produce results worth the extra time, effort and production cost.

Based on past performance, the Obama campaign just as obviously doesn’t.

Which approach is better? Over the next two months, we’ll see.