STRATEGERY…. John McCain has very little time, dwindling resources, and a limited number of options in order to reach 270 electoral votes. As such, he’s having to make some tough decisions.

Democrats who monitor advertising spending now put at five the number of states where Senator John McCain is reducing his advertising — New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Colorado, Maine and Minnesota.

In essence, Mr. McCain’s campaign has decided to spread the advertising time he bought for the upcoming week in those states over the next two final weeks.

While station managers in the affected states said they were not ruling out the possibility that Mr. McCain would pump money back in before election day, on Nov. 4, the move represents a stark reordering of priorities.

Estimates suggest McCain will save about $2 million by reducing ads in these five states. He’ll need the money — not only is Obama investing heavily, but McCain will no longer share the advertising costs with the Republican National Committee.

The campaign has started to phase out [hybrid] ads in these final days, deciding to stick to advertisements it can devote fully to Mr. McCain’s campaign message. That will greatly disadvantage Mr. McCain as he struggles to keep up with the far better funded Mr. Obama.

Scaling back in Colorado is probably the most significant development here. If Obama carries the states Kerry won, and then wins in Iowa, New Mexico, and Colorado, he’ll cross the 270 threshold, even without other battleground states where he’s competitive (Virginia, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, etc.).

It’s why Pennsylvania has become the centerpiece of McCain’ entire strategy. If he’s going to lose enough “red” states to put Obama over the top, he’ll need to flip a “blue” state with a lot of electoral votes, and he perceives Pennsylvania as his last, best shot.

Given the recent polling in the Keystone State, McCain is taking an enormous gamble that appears unlikely to pay off.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.