Jon Keeling gave it the old college try.  But the problem is that his post defending Kasich worse than expected campaign finance report winds up revealing just how bad the numbers for Kasich really were.

All that being said, the incumbent Governor still leads the challenger in cash-on-hand. As he should. After all, he’s been in office for nearly four years. That’s what’s supposed to happen.

Maybe that would work a year or two ago when nobody really was considering the race.  But this should be the time an establishment challenger like Kasich should be closing the gap.  Strickland’s campaign spent over $500k in television ads; Kasich $0k.  There’s been a dearth of polling showing the race is competitive.  We’ve been told ad nauseam that the political environment favors the Republicans.  We’re told, by Keeling, that Strickland is such a horrible Governor he cannot imagine how any one can support him.  Kasich has fundraising consultants who have worked for Republican presidential nomineees.  And yet, Kasich’s fundraising is slowing down and being eaten by massive fundraising overhead.

After all, Keeling also said that the good news of the ineffective RGA ad was that it kept Kasich from spending money while Strickland was spending his.  Just like everyone else who follows these things, the expectation was that Kasich would start to close the cash-on-hand gap this report.  He didn’t.  In fact, he widened it a little.

John Kasich managed to spend more money than Strickland, but in a manner that really did not help Kasich connect with voters or communicate a message.  A significant portion of that was overhead for campaign fundraising consultants.  John Kasich spent more to raise less than his opponent.  There’s no way to spin yourself out of that.

Obviously, [Strickland campaign spokeswoman Liz Smith] ignores the huge, in-your-face fact that Strickland already has a full official Governor’s staff that coordinates Strickland’s schedule and the vast majority of his activities. Meanwhile, Kasich has had to staff up from scratch and run his entire operation from his campaign office. Kasich’s spending isn’t unusual for a challenger’s race by any stretch.

Name one, Keeling.  John Kasich reported spending over 50% more than what Ted Strickland reported in 2006 in his post-primary report when he didn’t have “an official Governor’s staff” to coordinate his schedule (which really isn’t an advantage at all because Ohio campaign finance laws requires the campaign to have its own scheduler separate from the official office schedule which results in redundancies, not efficiencies.)  And Ted Strickland had a contested primary… and was running television ads  in 2006!

Kasich’s spending is highly unusual for any State candidate.  I can’t find any precedent of a State candidate in Ohio spending that much money without managing to run a single television ad.

Yes, Strickland is up on Kasich by $2 million cash-on-hand. Would we prefer Kasich to be on top? Of course. But as the challenger, the deficit is not only expected, it should be larger.

Ahhhh, yes, the political game of lowering expectations even further after a campaign has failed to meet expectations.  The problem is that Keeling’s own writings show just how below expectations the Kasich campaign came under Keeling’s own expectations!

Anyone remember this post?

It’s amazing to me that the cash-on-hand gap is already under $2 million with more than 6 months to go ‘til election day.

And he gets outraised by $500k and is on pace to lose his fundraising advantage by the fall.

File that under things that look very unlikely now.

Or this one?

In the last six months of 2009, John Kasich raised $1.75 million more than Ted Strickland. If Kasich and Strickland show similar results over the next six months, both campaigns will have virtually identical cash-on-hand numbers.

In other words, Kasich has ripped fundraising momentum from Strickland’s grasp.

I’ll say it once. And just once.

I told you so.

Yep, that was Jon Keeling in January of this year predicting that Kasich would have erased Strickland’s cash-on-hand advantage by … now.   An advantage that we’ve seen GROW instead.  Oh, and what did I have to say about those reports at the time?  I believe it was …. wow, John Kasich sure spends alot of money on pollsters and consultants.

Oh, and Keeling, what was that you said about where the campaigns needed to be before the air wars began?

Cash-on-hand matters when the ad wars begin. Until then, and as long as Kasich can continue to close the gap, our Republican nominee will be competitive on the airwaves.

Kasich failed to close the gap and now begun the ad wars have.

Oh, and let’s not forget this choice quote

Remember, one of the best gauges of where a race stands is how the fundraising is going. After all, big donors won’t contribute unless they think you have a solid shot.

(Maybe that explains why the business PACs are giving to Strickland, but not to Kasich.)  That’s what Keeling had to say just this year.

Kasich spent the last three weeks off the trail presumably for fundraising.  And, yet he wound up raising less and spending more than a campaign that spent $500k actually talking to voters in paid media.

When John Kasich fails to even meet Jon Keeling’s expectations, you know its a bad campaign finance report.

Not a single pundit expected that Ted Strickland would raise more than John Kasich as he’s never done it before now.  But nobody, nobody expected Kasich to spend MORE than Strickland.

Kasich’s campaign finance report, though, is a more serious problem than just these horserace stories they generate, Kasich’s spends portrays a campaign that is incredibly image-conscious, driven by polls and political consultants, rather than ideas and convictions. Kasich’s unwillingness to take a stand on the issues just reinforces that image.

The problem for Jon Keeling is that his spent over a year spinning that Strickland’s cash-on-hand didn’t matter because Kasich would close the gap.  This report shows that at a critical time in the election, Kasich is burning money on polls and consultants to try to craft his public image without having to say anything that might upset someone.  Kasich’s entire campaign is fluff that puts style over offering any real substance.  And it’s start to run out of things to spin.