Romney’s Advertising Gamble

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As reported in the NYT this morning, Romney is spending a boatload of money running television ads in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and on national cable. No other candidate is on the air. Romney’s aides say the ad buys are the reason Romney has leapfrogged over McCain and Giuliani in (some) Iowa and New Hampshire polling. They may be right. Besides anxiety about the other candidates, it explains why Romney seems to be breaking through in those states while still lagging nationally. But there’s also a long held belief among a lot of political consultants that money spent this early on television is money down the drain. John Weaver, McCain’s chief strategist (and therefore an admittedly biased observer), dismissed the Romney ad buy this way:

“They’re very soft numbers because it’s done in a vacuum,” he said. “It would be like, if on a busy intersection, a hamburger chain puts up a store, and they’re the only hamburger chain around. People would buy their hamburgers there, but after a period of time, Burger King and McDonald’s move in, and the hamburger chain wouldn’t do as well.”

Any readers in IA, NH and SC have an opinion about the impact of the ads?