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First Thoughts: Still fighting on GOP turf

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks in Craig, Colo. Romney is calling for more
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks in Craig, Colo. Romney is calling for moreMary Altaffer / AP

The hottest 10 advertising markets: Still fighting on GOP turf… If you’re looking to explain why the Obama-Romney race is close, look no further than the fundamentals… Romney gets trumped by Trump on the day he mathematically clinches GOP nomination… It’ll be Dewhurst vs. Cruz in July… And congressional incumbent Silvestre Reyes goes down in Texas.

*** Still fighting on GOP turf: What do this week’s 10 hottest advertising markets (from May 28 to June 4) in the presidential contest tell us? The race is still being fought on GOP turf -- all states that George W. Bush carried in 2004 (and three that John Kerry never contested). Six of the top 10 advertising markets are in North Carolina and Virginia, according to NBC/SMG Delta. (Still don’t think that North Carolina is a true battleground?) The other four markets are in Colorado, Ohio, and Iowa. The New York Times confirms that Team Romney has placed “a priority on winning Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia,” plus one more. Come October, if the major battlegrounds are only those first four states, then that will be very good news for Team Obama. But if you start seeing Pennsylvania or Michigan added to this list, then you know the worm has turned. Here are the top 10 advertising markets (in advertising points):

*** Where everyone is advertising: Here’s also a snapshot of where everyone is advertising this week:
Obama ($7.3 million): CO, FL, IA, NC, NH, NV, OH, PA, VA,
Romney ($2 million): IA, NC, OH, VA
Crossroads ($5 million): CO, FL, IA, MI, NC, NH, NV, OH, PA, VA
Priorities ($1.1 million): CO, FL, OH, PA, VA

*** Romney and the Republicans are already outspending Obama and the Democrats: By the way, it’s now official: With the addition of the new Romney ad buy, Romney and the GOP outside groups have passed Obama and the Democratic outside groups in total ad spending for the general election,  $45 million to $39 million. Team Obama $38.7M; anti-Obama $35.6M; Team Romney $9.3M.

*** It’s the fundamentals, stupid: It seems like everyone is chasing narratives to explain why all the current polling shows the Obama-Romney contest to be close. Is Romney stronger than people expected? Did the Bain attacks backfire? (Folks, remember that the two-minute Obama TV ad on Bain had less than $100,000 behind it.) To us, the answer is: “It’s the fundamentals, stupid.” Earlier in the year, Obama enjoyed a larger lead over Romney 1) during the throes of the contested GOP primary race, and 2) when the economy was adding 200,000-plus jobs a month. Now? The GOP primary race is over, and that job creation has slowed down. Plus, there are now new economic worries coming out of Europe. Funny how this works with the Obama numbers: When the economic anxiety level lowers, his numbers rise; when anxiety rises, his numbers fall. To some of our media buddies: Don’t go chasing narrative waterfalls. Yes, we have spent too much time watching the movie “The Other Guys.”

*** Trumped by Trump: Remember what we wrote yesterday -- that hanging out with Donald Trump could overshadow you, for all the wrong reasons? Or what we wrote on Friday -- that associating with him is playing with fire? Or what we wrote in February -- that getting his endorsement could backfire? Well, yesterday Trump hijacked Romney’s big day of clearing the 1144 delegate number when 1) the Romney campaign scheduled a fundraiser with Trump on that same day; 2) Trump engaged in more “birther” talk on CNBC; and 3) Trump did it again on CNN. Unfortunately for the Romney camp, this was entirely preventable; you could have seen it coming from miles away. The Obama campaign gleefully fired off this statement yesterday: “If Mitt Romney lacks the backbone to stand up to a charlatan like Donald Trump because he's so concerned about lining his campaign's pockets, what does that say about the kind of President he would be?" Today’s optics for Team Romney aren’t that great, either: Romney hits a California fundraiser co-hosted by Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, whose troubled firm is planning to lay off some 25,000 workers. But Meg Whitman is no Donald Trump.

*** Romney passes the 1144 number: But here was the good news for Team Romney yesterday: Winning the Texas primary last night, he surpassed the 1144 delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination. As of earlier this morning, here’s where the delegate count now stands: Romney 1183, Santorum 261, Gingrich 135, Paul 129.

*** It’ll be Dewhurst vs. Cruz in July: Also in Texas last night, Lt. David Dewhurst failed to get 50% in the Senate GOP primary -- instead he got 45% -- and that will force a July run-off against second-place finisher Ted Cruz. (By the way, Craig James got less than 4% of the vote; The Leach mob got him?) Make no mistake: Dewhurst is in real trouble. A run-off against a Tea Party insurgent, especially in the dead of summer, is an establishment candidate’s worst nightmare.

*** Reyes goes down: And in Texas, we saw a congressional incumbent -- Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D) -- lose his primary. Reyes “was narrowly defeated by former city councilman Beto O'Rourke, who favors legalizing marijuana but has said he wouldn't push for that in Congress,” the AP writes. “O’Rourke’s bid was boosted by a Texas-based super PAC, the Campaign for Primary Accountability, which invested heavily in two House contests in the Lone Star State,” Roll Call adds. But Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg Political Report makes a very important point: In 15 states so far, 130 out of 132 House incumbents (98%) have been re-nominated in races not featuring members vs. members.

Countdown to WI recall: 6 days
Countdown to GOP convention: 90 days
Countdown to Dem convention: 97 days
Countdown to Election Day: 161 days

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