From a short NYT piece on the shrinking McCain advertising budget in swing states.
But the McCain campaign also needs the extra money to keep up with its current plans, due to a quiet decision it has made that most voters will hardly notice. Until now, the campaign has been teaming up with the Republican National Committee to jointly produce a large percentage of its advertisements. By sharing the costs down the middle, Team McCain has been able to basically double the amount of advertisements it can run for its money. This is all legal: campaigns are allowed to split the costs of their ads with their affiliated parties. But there’s a catch: The spots must serve not only their campaigns but also the collective agendas of their congressional colleagues.
Such advertisements – known in the political business as “hybrids” – tend to garble a presidential candidate’s message. So, for instance, a spot attacking Mr. Obama also has included references to “liberals in Congress’’ and figures like Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader, who is not as well known to everyday voters.
The campaign has started to phase out those ads in these final days, deciding to stick to advertisements it can devote fully to Mr. McCain’s campaign message. That will greatly disadvantage Mr. McCain as he struggles to keep up with the far better funded Mr. Obama. But Mr. McCain’s aides have clearly decided a trade of volume for greater clarity is worth it.
Now this is one possible interpretation of what is going on. But while mixed messages are a significant problem, I (as an admitted naif on these issues) would have thought that getting completely swamped by your opponent’s advertising is a rather bigger one. Isn’t a more plausible interpretation of this decision that the RNC are finally pulling the plug on their subsidization of the McCain campaign, and the McCain folks are trying to put the best face that they can on it?