At a recent campaign stop in Denver, Sen. Barack Obama portrayed his primary opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton as a hyper-cautious poll-driven candidate -- a criticism that Clinton critics are often lob.
"If you choose change, you will have a nominee who doesn't just tell people what they want to hear," Obama said.
But a look at campaign finance filings reveals that it is Obama not Clinton who has spent more on polling and surveying.
According to year-end research tabulated by the Center for Responsive Politics, Obama has spent more than $2.55 million so far in the campaign on "Polling/Surveys/Research," six hundred thousand dollars more than Clinton's $1.92 million.
The expenditures provide a seeming contrast to the political stereotypes of the two presidential aspirants. Recently on the trail, Obama has positioned himself as the candidate of authenticity to Clinton's calculated nature.
"Poll-tested positions, calculated answers might be how Washington confronts challenges, but it's not how you overcome those challenges; it's not how you inspire our nation to come together behind a common purpose, and it's not what America needs right now," he told a crowd last week. "You need a candidate who will tell you the truth."
But as the Center's figures reveal, Obama's political infastructure - buoyed by his ability to raise and spend loads of money - resembles, in part, that which he has criticized. During campaigns, it should be noted, polling is used to understand and target different constituencies.
The Obama campaign did not return an immediate request for comment. The Center's data is currently being adjusted on their website.
The numbers, however, come with caveats. Clinton has far outspent Obama on external campaign advisers. According to their campaign filings, the New York Democrat has spent more than $1.2 million on political consultants -- nearly a million dollars more than Obama. Also, her campaign is roughly $1.5 million in debt to her chief strategist Mark Penn. The origins of the debt are not known, but they ostensibly include consulting, mailing, wage and some polling costs.
The disparities in the expenditures mirror the differences in each candidate's campaign staff. Clinton, with Penn, a pollster, running the ship, has spent less on polling than Obama. While Obama, whose chief strategist David Axelrod is a consultant, has spent less on consulting than Clinton.