September 20, 2004 -- Posted 4:30 p.m. CDT
Jonesboro, AR -- On the eve the first presidential debate, some question if President Bush and Senator Kerry are giving up too soon in Region 8.
Inside the Republican Headquarters in Jonesboro, volunteer Pam Cummings believes Bush will carry the Natural State.
"It's always been a tight race, Arkansas is still an important race in this election," said Cummings.
At the Democratic Headquarters, volunteer Clint Boling has the same message; different candidate.
"The morale is the best I have seen," said Boling. "I've worked in the Democratic party for a number of years, it's the best I have seen in my entire life."
While polling in Arkansas has this race at a statistical dead heat, other numbers may paint a picture into Bush and Kerry's campaign strategy and this area's importance. In Northeast Arkansas alone Bush has out spent Kerry in television ads by $20, 000 dollars. The President pulled his ads in late August, and they're not scheduled to re-air. Kerry on the other hand was absent from the television screen in August and September. He will resume airing ads again in late October.
"It's mass appeal, it's the most mass appeal, that's why it's so expensive," said Dana Kelley, a marketing and advertising company executive in Jonesboro.
"I don't think it's them giving up as much as it is a priority. They only have so much to spend and they have to spend it where they best think it's going to have results. Arkansas with 6 electoral votes, I'm sure they would like to have. If they can only have one or the other, they'll take Florida," said Kelley.
The situation is similar in Missouri. The Kerry campaign has stopped all television ads in the Show-Me-State. President Bush has cut his advertising dollars by about $100,000 dollars.
"Television advertising is only one piece of any communication strategy," said Kelley.
That's something both parties are counting on.
"We're spending thousands and thousands of dollars, television is just one of those mediums." said Boling.
"As Republicans we understand that advertising doesn't get all the votes," said Cummings. "The people getting out and voting is where the votes come from."
"We have sign up sheets that go into the hundreds of people that are volunteering in the region," said Boling.