Romney’s online ads and offline issues

Last week, Mashable and David Weigel both noted that Mitt Romney has been investing in web ads, but that he has yet to run an actual TV commercial in the early primary states (or any other states, obviously).  Mashable chalks it up to a money-saving move that has the added benefit of appealing to young voters:

It’s possible the candidates are waiting to amass more funds to pay for more-expensive airtime. Or, they could be engaged in an informal standoff for who will try to rule the airwaves.

On the other hand, web ads are a smart move. They are relatively cheaper to make and broadcast and naturally appeal to younger, web-savvy voters — traditionally a weak spot for Republicans.

After the criticism he took in last night’s debate, though, a web-focused strategy makes perfect sense for Mitt Romney.  The video which spawned last week’s round of coverage chided the Obama Administration on trade and intellectual property rights, which isn’t exactly a front-page-news-making issue.  It does, however, speak to some key audiences.  It’s one thing to say you appeal to philosophical conservatives who view government as an instrument to protect citizens’ rights and voters whose views align with business and commerce; but Romney’s ad deals brings up a niche issue that demonstrates an understanding of these voters’ motivations and concerns.

These are also the types of voters who are probably still deciding whether or not a Romney Presidency would be better enough than an Obama Presidency to be excited about a Romney candidacy.  Despite the fireworks of last night’s debate and this morning’s conventional wisdom that the other candidates put him on the defensive, Romney still carries the mantle of inevitability as the 2012 Republican nominee.  He still has plenty of people to convince to avoid being an also-ran in the same category as former inevitable nominees Bob Dole and John McCain.  He won’t be able to explain away his Massachusetts health plan, but online video gives him a medium to show conservatives he understands other issues.

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