There is still the real possibility that Mitt Romney will win this election, but there is no doubt which candidate has the more dominant campaign infrastructure. By basically every metric the Obama campaign does significantly more than the Romney campaign across the entire spectrum. It has advertised more, reach out more and set up a big field operation.
TV Advertising – The Obama campaign and its allies have run significantly more TV ads than the Romney campaign and its allies. According to the Wesleyan Media Project, Obama has constantly held the advertising advantage since the conventions. In the month of October more pro-Obama ad were run than pro-Romney ads in 13 of the 15 most important swing state media markets. Overall 112,000 pro-Obama ads aired so far this month compared to just 97,000 ads for Romney, even though Democrats spend less money. By booking air time early and buying it directily through the campaign the Obama team has gotten more bang for their buck.
Internet advertising – The Romney campaign for some unexplainable reason basically forfeited this new frontier to Obama. According to Politico, the Obama campaign has spent roughly $47 million on online ads, while the Romney campaign has spent just $4.7 million. The internet is relatively new to politics so it is hard to judge what impact it can have on elections, but given that the TV airwaves are already saturated it seems strange that the Romney campaign has invested so little in this new way to reach voters. It is not like the campaign is strapped for cash.
Social Media – Obama holds an incredible advantage over Romney on the most popular social media sites. Obama has 31.4 million Facebook fans compared to Romney’s 10.9 million. Similarly, on Google+ Obama has nearly three times as many fans, Obama is at 2.3 million, compared to 1 million for Romney. Finally, on Twitter Obama really dominates. Obama has 21.4 million Twitter followers and Romney has only 1.6 million.
While it is not surprising that Obama dominates on youth heavy sites, it is still an advantage for the campaign They serve as some of the easiest and fastest ways for the campaign to reach supporters, make asks and try to spin news stories. Romney’s weak social media presence, which can also function as free online advertising, makes Romney’s under-investing in paid online advertising seem like an even bigger oversight.
Ground Game – Perhaps more important than anything else, the Obama campaign has built a dramatically bigger field operation than Romney. In each of the big swing states of Florida, Virgina and Ohio, the Obama team has twice as many field offices as the Romney campaign. According to the Daily Beast, across the entire country Obama has 755 campaign headquarters compared to Romney’s 283.
This larger ground game is already starting to bear fruit in the early voting data. In basically every state with significant early voting the Obama team has already banked a huge share of the vote. For example in the critical swing state of Ohio the polling shows that Obama is winning roughly 60 percent of the early vote. There are not only guaranteed votes for the Obama, but it means on election day the campaign will have much small number of voter they need to focus on turning out. Come November 6th, the Obama campaign will have a bigger field operation than Romney and they will have fewer supporters they need to make sure get to the polls that day.
Just looking at the nuts and bolts that make up the mechanics of a political operation, the Obama team has the clear edge over Romney. In basically every area of potential voter outreach the Obama campaign is simply a larger presence. If the election appears like it will be tight, Obama can probably count on his more substantial operation to bring in that extra half a percent to put him over the top.