[UPDATE: Oy. One of the dangers of blogging is that when you mess up, nobody’s there to catch it before you post, and if you post then spend a few hours in a dentists chair, your mistake sits there for all to see. I misread the source that reported Republicans were going on TV to say Perry and Romney, when in fact it said Perry and Paul. It doesn’t detract from the main thrust of the post–in fact, it actually underscores the point, since the candidate who’s been the consistent frontrunner/co-frontrunner as well as the current GOP flavor of the week still haven’t gone on the air–but my apology for the error]
It looks like the Republicans will finally start running TV ads in Iowa. I don’t yet know the size of the buys or whether they’ll be staying on the air from now through the caucuses, but this is a big marker of when the campaign begins in earnest.
For all the talk about Barack Obama being vulnerable, it’s important to recognize that the Republicans only going on the air now can be seen as a sign of their weakness. In 2007, Barack Obama began running Iowa ads in June. Hillary Clinton was on the air by August. By this point in 2007 both Bill Richardson & Chris Dodd had been on the air for months.
But the Democrats were well behind the first presidential candidate to launch a serious TV campaign. In February, 2007 Mitt Romney went on TV, and by early November he’d already run 14,000 ads in Iowa.
Romney’s raised significantly less money this campaign than he had at the same point in 2007. Last time around he’d raised about $44 million, plus added $17 million of his own by the end of September. This time he’s raised only $32 million. Neither Romney nor his Republicans rivals have the same kind of money the Democratic candidates had in 2007, and there’s little indication they’ll be able to mount the huge, long and costly primary campaigns, complete with heavy advertising and robust field operations, that Obama and Clinton did in the last campaign. Keep that in mind next time you hear some pundit bloviating about how the Republicans are perfectly positioned to beat Barack Obama.