By Andrew Schulman, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 6, 2012
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and conservative groups backing him announced Thursday that they will not continue to run television campaign advertisements in the state of Michigan, The Detroit News reported.
Though some experts say the decision could damage Romney’s prospects in Michigan, it doesn’t necessarily signify the campaign is ready to surrender the state, according to Michael Heaney, an assistant professor of political science.
“I wouldn’t say it’s giving up Michigan,” Heaney said “I would say, at this point in time, they view their scarce resources as more effectively devoted to other states. They just have a limited amount of money, and they’ve got to be smart in how they spend it.”
Super PACs American Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity recently committed $13 million to spend on advertising in key swing states, so the decision to end Romney’s advertising campaign in Michigan may suggest that his campaign is placing less focus on winning the state in the November election, according to The News.
Poll numbers released by Public Policy Polling on Sept. 3 indicate that Obama is currently carrying a 7 point lead in Michigan.
The destination for the conservative groups’ funds may be states such as Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia or North Carolina — battleground states that Heaney said are more contested and more electorally significant than Michigan.
Political Science Prof. Vincent Hutchings agreed, adding that other swing states are more important to Romney’s election chances and President Barack Obama’s re-election.
“(Romney) really needs Florida and Ohio; it’s a little hard to see him winning without both those states,” Hutchings said. “But he doesn’t really need Michigan, and frankly, neither does the president.”
Like Romney and conservative groups, Obama and his backers have spent little on advertising in Michigan, according to Hutchings. He added that the lack of Michigan funding seems to be a sign that neither campaign expects the state’s vote to be close.
“(Obama’s) not going to spend a lot in Hawaii or in California, and by that token, Mitt Romney’s not going to spend a lot in Utah or in South Carolina,” Hutchings said. “That’s because they’re not competitive. To the extent that Michigan becomes non-competitive, then neither candidate is going to spend much money here.”
In spite of the withdrawal of advertisements here in Michigan, LSA senior Jared Boot, chair of the University’s chapter of Students for Romney, said the group will continue advocating for the GOP candidate. He said the group will continue to make telephone calls to garner support for Romney every Thursday.
“I still think the race (in Michigan) is competitive,” he said.
Matt Frendewey, spokesman from the Michigan Republican Party, also told The News that Romney, who was born and raised in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is not ceding the chance to become the first Republican presidential candidate to win Michigan since former President George H.W. Bush in 1988.
“The last two credible polls showed Michigan in play,” said Frendewey. “We recognize we're the underdog and we have to compete hard to win.”