With two weeks to go, presidential candidates spoil six lucky states

Released October 22, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE              
Contact: Laura Kirshner, Presidential Election Reform Program
October 22, 2008      (301) 270-4616   [email protected]

After nearly two years of campaigning, the 2008 presidential election will be over in just 13 days. For voters in most states, they won't see the candidates between now and Election Day nor experience campaign activity generated by the presidential campaigns. They will be voyeurs to the "real action" taking place in an ever-shrinking number of presidential battlegrounds.

Who are the favored few who make the cut? Here is FairVote's latest "candidate tracker," using data from the Washington Post to show which states are drawing attention from major party candidates for president and vice-president.

State*            Visits this week           Total visits to date
                  (10/15/08-10/21/08)        (9/5/08-10/21/08)
1. Ohio                    2                    20
2. Florida                 4                    18
3. Pennsylvania         2                    16
4. Virginia                 1                    13
5. Colorado               2                    11
6. Missouri                2                    11
7. New Hampshire      2                      7
8. North Carolina        2                      7
9. Nevada                 2                      5
10. New Mexico          1                     5
11. Indiana                1                     3
12. Maine                  1                     1
 
*(Note: Only the states that received visits during the week of 10/15/08-10/21/08 are included in this ranking. Information in this chart is based on data from The Washington Post's 2008 Campaign Tracker. Visits and fundraisers documented in alternative news sources may not be included. As one example, Joe Biden's recent visit to Washington state was not included in the Washington Post data, so that visit is not included in our tracker. Any portion of a day spent in a state constitutes a visit to that state. Multiple events held in one state on the same day are considered a single visit. Consecutive days spent in a single state are considered multiple visits. Source:  http://projects.washingtonpost.com/2008-presidential-candidates/tracker/ )

The biggest difference between this week and preceding weeks is the dwindling number of states where the Presidential candidates themselves are traveling. Until last week, John McCain and Barack Obama visited a combined total of at least nine states each week (except for the week of September 11th). This week, according to the Washington Post data, the Presidential candidates visited a combined total of only six states: Florida, Pennsylvania, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Virginia.

It's no coincidence that these states account for most of the candidates' TV ad spending as well: 55% of all statewide TV ad spending in the week of Oct. 8 - 14 was in one of these six states. Ohio voters have had a taste of candidate neglect this past week, but overall Ohio leads the pack of visited states - and it remains inundated with campaign ads, ranking it second in ad spending over the period of Oct. 8 to 14.

Meanwhile, formerly contested states, such as Michigan, have already seen a major decline in campaign attention. Two weeks ago, Michigan was the most visited state by the presidential candidates and their running mates, and it ranked 4th among the top recipients of TV ad spending with $2,306,000 spent between September 29 and October 5. But in the wake of Sen. McCain deciding to pull out of Michigan, it has not seen a campaign visit since October 2, and television ad spending in the state dropped by $723,000 from the first week of October to the second week.

The major party presidential and vice-presidential candidates haven't done a single public campaign event in a total of 26 states in the period of September 5 to October 21, according to the Washington Post data. On the rare occasion that one of the major party candidates FairVote's executive director Rob Richie commented "In the current Electoral College system, when your state isn't close you don't count. It's time to respect every vote in every election by states adopting the National Popular Vote plan by 2012."

FairVote has posted its full candidate trackers at http://fairvote.org/tracker. Visitors to http://fairvote.org/presidentwill find information on the National Popular Vote plan, which promises to make 2008 the last year with the current Electoral College system, and our 2006 report Presidential Elections Inequality that provides detailed information on the last four decades of presidential elections and the impact of the current Electoral College system on the 2004 elections.

FairVote will continue to collect data on campaign visits up until Election Day to see how the focus of each campaign changes. We will issue weekly updates of our candidate tracker, supplemented by data on campaign financing.  We also will plan to release an updated version of our Presidential Elections Inequality report soon after the election that will allow us to anticipate what states are likely to be battleground states in 2012 Our report will include a detailed analysis of campaign attention based on visits, spending, and advertisements in each state by each of the two major party campaigns and their independent backers.

FairVote is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that studies the impact of electoral rules and systems on turnout, representation and electoral competition.