STEVE INSKEEP, host:
It's Morning Edition from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Here's one measure of how this presidential campaign is changing America's political landscape. In 2004, President Bush and Democrat John Kerry did not spend a penny advertising on TV in Indiana. There was no point. It was going to go Republican, end of story. But right now, Indiana is just barely tilting toward John McCain. It's close. And Barack Obama is outspending McCain on television ads there, 20 to one. NPR's Peter Overby looks at three states where Obama's money has had an impact.
PETER OVERBY: It's not just money. In Indianapolis yesterday, Obama had the crowd roaring.
(Soundbite of Obama speaking before a cheering crowd)
Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Candidate): If you will stand with me, if you will work with me, if you will vote for me in 27 days, I promise you we will not just win Indiana, we will win this general election.
OVERBY: But the race so far has confirmed that Obama was smart to reject public financing and use his own record-setting fundraising network. McCain is limited to $84 million in federal funds. Obama might spend more than that just on television between now and Election Day. That's the calculation of Evan Tracey, chief operating officer of the Campaign Media Analysis Group which tracks TV spending.
Mr. EVAN TRACEY (Chief Operating Officer, Campaign Media Analysis Group): This is a strategic win for the Democrats is any time you have to tie a Republican down in states like North Carolina and states like Indiana. And I think McCain probably felt like they would be out of Missouri by now, and that Obama would be out of Missouri. And that just hasn't been the case.
OVERBY: According to Tracey's organization, Obama and the Democratic National Committee have spent $5.4 million on TV in Missouri, half a million more than McCain and the Republican National Committee. McCain has 16 field offices there. Obama has 41. North Carolina is another example, normally solid Republican in presidential elections. Yet on Tuesday, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin was campaigning there.
Governor SARAH PALIN (Republican, Alaska; Republican Vice Presidential Candidate): We're asking for your vote because we know it's going to come down to the wire. And here in North Carolina, you can help put us there in D.C. to put the government back on your side.
(Soundbite of crowd ovation)
OVERBY: And again, the money tells the story. Obama's already spent more than 5 million on TV, McCain about $800,000. Linda Daves heads up the North Carolina Republican Party, and she says Obama started way too early and has been wasting his money.
Ms. LINDA DAVES (Chairwoman, North Carolina Republican Party): Most wise campaigns - unless they're getting so much money from somewhere they don't think they'll ever run out - will hold their heavy guns until they see the whites of the eyes.
OVERBY: But that's pinning a lot of hope on McCain's underfunded operation. And back in Indiana, the state GOP is optimistic about the re-election chances of Republican Governor Mitch Daniels. But when party chair Murray Clark parses the McCain campaign in a phone call, he can look at it lots of different ways and yet...
Mr. MURRAY CLARK (Chairman, Indiana Republican Party): I hate to keep going back to money, but I think it's hard for, kind of, campaign and political veterans to fathom what kind of money the Obama campaign has.
OVERBY: Clark says the RNC just came into Indiana with a $750,000 ad buy. But when Obama has laid out $4 million in Indiana already, three quarters of a million against him seems like a late start. That's the analysis of Dan Parker, Indiana's Democratic chairman.
Mr. DAN PARKER (Chairman, Indiana Democratic Party): They've allowed us to lap them for too long. For so long, they didn't want to admit that Indiana was a battleground state.
OVERBY: Parker estimates that Obama has more than 100 paid staff in Indiana. Clark, the GOP chair, says Obama's troops seem to be focusing on the state's most Republican counties. Even if this in-your-face strategy doesn't put Indiana in Obama's column November 4, Evan Tracey says he wins just by making McCain spend money there.
Mr. CLARK: Every day and every dollar that McCain and the RNC spend in Indiana is a day and a dollar they can't spend in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
OVERBY: States that Republicans expected to be battlegrounds, not states where Obama's unfettered dollars are changing the game. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.