On the Democratic side, bundlers for Obama and Clinton were in hot pursuit of former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards' donors after the suspension of Edwards' campaign Wednesday.
President Clinton. He declined and is backing Obama.
"I truly believe a lot of Edwards' supporters are going that way," Cotchett said. "It is clear this country needs a new direction. The old ways need to change."
Los Angeles Democrat Sim Farar, one of Clinton's top volunteer fundraisers, has been calling Edwards bundlers seeking their support. But first, he sympathizes. Having been a fundraiser for Al Gore in 2000 and John F. Kerry in 2004, Farar knows that a loss "hits you in the belly."
"They have worked hard. I feel their pain," Farar said.
Romney's eleventh-hour advertising blitz contrasts sharply with the air war already underway between Clinton and Obama. They have been advertising in most of the 22 states holding Democratic nominating contests Tuesday.
Yet neither has sufficient funds to blanket California, let alone all Super Tuesday states, with advertising. They are putting up ads head-to-head in only eight states: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Missouri, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
An expert on the purchase of television time in California, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said advertising by Obama and Clinton here is little more than "token." They appear to be spending less than $2 million apiece, a pittance compared to the tens of millions being spent for and against the gambling measures on California's ballot.
"It is more or less to say they've been here," the expert said.
Ads are no guarantee
Other observers said that the last-minute nature of the GOP candidates' advertising significantly reduces the potential impact of ads in the crucial Super Tuesday states.
McCain strategist Steve Schmidt said Romney was on the air for months in New Hampshire and Florida, and lost.
Furthermore, "Gov. Romney outspent Sen. McCain 8-to-1 in Florida, and his candidacy was pretty decisively rejected by the voters," Schmidt said.
Kenneth Goldstein, a political media analyst at the University of Wisconsin, agreed that the tide had turned: "Things are starting to solidify, and the ability to change voter attitudes with paid media in five or six days is pretty limited.
"Political ads matter at the margins, and we may be at the point where the margins don't matter," Goldstein added. "People know McCain and generally know Romney. Certainly there's a lot more to learn, but there's not enough money or time to teach them much in five days."
Times staff writers Maria La Ganga, Seema Mehta and Maeve Reston contributed to this report.