06/20/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

McCain Spends $1M Campaigning Without Rival In Mich.

The stumbling McCain campaign it appears has been managing to lose a race against no one in a critical general election state, despite spending more than $500,000 per week since May 28th on TV ads there. The presumptive Republican nominee has had months to campaign without formal opposition in Michigan, a state he desperately hopes he can win, because Barack Obama has only recently returned after a ten-month forced absence courtesy the DNC. Despite the glaring discrepancy, three recent polls find the candidates deadlocked in the state -- further evidence that the McCain campaign fumbled critical campaigning and fundraising opportunities during the four-month Clinton and Obama slugfest and is now spending furiously to make up lost ground.

According to the Detroit Free Press, two Michigan polls taken in the past month put McCain up by four percentage points, within the margin of error. A third poll, released on Monday, shows Obama leading by three-points. Although Michigan has gone Democratic in every presidential contest since 1988, Republicans see a rare opportunity to clinch the state's 17 electoral votes in November; but the McCain camp should hardly be pleased with its performance.

McCain's recent Michigan "air" campaign consists of two statewide TV ads per week, an ad buy that's belly socking the already wheezing campaign. The $500,000 figure were provided by Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. Barack Obama, by contrast, has yet to air a single statewide TV ad there -- or to air general election ads in any other state for that matter.

Not bad for a candidate running competitively within the margin of error in the three most recent statewide polls. Obama's new-style distributed small-donor fundraising machine is shaping up to be a model for future campaigns, but that machinery may be all the more powerful for being balanced against equally impressive carefully weighed spending.