The McCain campaign is working "feverishly" to take down television advertisements that it is running nationally, according to sources who follow media ad buys. And the move, driven by the Senator's self-enforced suspension of his campaign, could save his candidacy more than a million dollars a day.
Officials from markets across the country reported on Thursday that the McCain campaign had contacted them about temporarily postponing the television slots they had purchased, Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group told Huffington Post. But because of the abruptness of the policy change, the effort was taking time.
"I'm sure it probably took a little bit of time knowing what that exactly means," said Tracey, "and buying television spots is like buying airline tickets, every station has a different policy on what they will cancel."
As a byproduct of the move, the McCain campaign stood to save more than a million dollars a day. On September 23, for example, his campaign spent $1.1 million on 2,600 national ads. Today only a portion of them ran. Tomorrow, Tracey predicted, 90 to 95 percent would be completely off the air.
One Democratic source involved in the ad buy industry suggested that McCain's move was driven by financial as well as political concerns. Saving cash in the interim -- when the race is dominated by economic news and the upcoming debates -- would allow McCain to plow money back into the race during the waning days of the election.
"They are not going to penetrate in this issue climate," said the source. "The debates are coming up, so that is free media. And they are going to need bigger investments in key states down the road."
Indeed, McCain -- constrained by public financing -- is already facing a daunting task in matching Obama's ad purchases. While the Arizona Republican spent $1.1 million on Tuesday, Obama forked over $2.1 million, according to a source familiar with the buy. Moreover, more than $800,000 of McCain's purchase actually came through the joint committee that he shares with the RNC.
In light of McCain taking down his ads, Tracey had a clever piece of advice for Obama: fill the void.
"If I were running the Obama campaign, I would be trying to buy every TV spot the McCain camp is giving up today because advertising works when there is tonnage," he said. "Media works when there is a lot of horsepower behind it. Take what the other side is giving you, which is basically free reign with the television viewing audience."
But according to the Democratic source, there were no plans at this point in time for Obama to increase his expenditure. "The campaign," he added, "felt like it was saturating the airwaves already."