October 2nd, 2007
09:00 AM ET
9 years ago

News Analysis: Romney's 10,000 TV ads

Over the past few days, McCain aired his first TV ad while Romney aired his 10,000th.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Over the past few days, two presidential candidates marked a “first” in their competing bids for the Republican presidential nomination.

For Arizona Sen. John McCain, the weekend marked the first time he took to the airwaves to tout his candidacy with an ad buy in New Hampshire. But it is the milestone former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney just passed that is head shaking.

Romney is the first presidential candidate to run at least 10,000 political ads this election cycle, according to an analysis conducted by TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG, CNN’s consultant on political advertising spending. And there is no White House hopeful in sight to catch up to him anytime soon – unless a candidate immediately opens up the campaign war chest and begins to saturate the airwaves.

“This shows that Romney is a force to be reckoned with, and he clearly is relying on paid advertising and paid media to move his campaign,” said Evan Tracey, chief operating office of the TNSMI/CMAG.

Tracey also noted that this is “probably the quietest 10,000 commercials you will ever see” in a presidential campaign, because the ads have aired almost exclusively in Iowa and New Hampshire with a smaller number of runs in South Carolina and Florida.

While it may be the quietest, it has not been the cheapest. Romney has spent approximately $8 million on his ads since he began airing them in February.

In contrast, McCain has spent the better part of the summer rebuilding his campaign after an internal implosion brought it to its knees. Poor fundraising, questionable management of campaign funds and a large expensive staff forced McCain to make a midcourse correction. He is now working with a leaner operation, and he has slowly returned to his old feisty form – a trait that was embraced by supporters and the media in his failed 2000 bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

McCain’s ad buy is designed to help him continue to build support in New Hampshire, a state he won in 2000. In the latest CNN/WMUR New Hampshire presidential primary poll - conducted by the University of New Hampshire - McCain checks in at 18 percent, up six percentage points from the July survey.

The path to the Republican nomination for McCain begins in New Hampshire, while his rival, Romney, is eyeing an earlier start.

If there was one candidate in this pack of 2008 presidential contenders hoping to catch a wave out of Iowa to carry him to victories in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida before heading into “Super Tuesday,” it is Romney. And the former Massachusetts governor is working hard to put himself into position to try and ride the wave to victory. In addition to his ad buys in the state, Romney was the only major candidate to participate in the Iowa Republican Party straw poll in August. He won the contest, which is viewed as a test of organizational strength, by pouring money and resources into the event.

So far, Romney’s television advertising strategy appears to be paying off. He leads his GOP rivals in the most recent Newsweek poll of Iowa caucus-goers and remains one of the top choices of New Hampshire Republicans, according to the CNN/WMUR poll. (Romney did see his support slip significantly in the recent CNN/WMUR poll, but he still remains one of the favorites in this crucial early state).

Nationally, it is a different story for the former Massachusetts governor. His name ID remains low, but as one Romney advisor points out it is Iowa Republicans and New Hampshire Republicans who will be the first people to cast votes in the 2008 election.

Tracey said that, up until now, Romney’s Republican rivals have “basically ceded the airwaves” to the former Massachusetts governor. But Tracey notes that this will change as we move closer to January. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson will up the ante once they decide to put an emphasis on television advertising.

On the Democratic side, a review of television ad buying shows that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is the leader in his party, having run more than 4,300 spots in Iowa and New Hampshire. Richardson’s decision to invest early in these states appears to be a wise move that has helped boost his candidacy. The Newsweek poll of Iowa caucus-goers has Richardson at 10 percent, while he is running in fourth place in New Hampshire, according to the CNN/WMUR poll. (Richardson did lose ground between the July and September CNN/WMUR polls, but it is support he likely would not have experienced had it not been for his clever “job interview” television commercials).

Meanwhile, the frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination have also kept the focus on Iowa and New Hampshire, with the former state getting the most attention. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has aired more than 3,300 commercials, compared to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has run nearly 1,700 spots.

And while this might seem overwhelming, it is just the beginning. As Tracey notes, the next three months is traditionally the busiest time for political television commercials. If you live in an early voting state, make sure you have the television remote control nearby.

- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston

Filed under: CNN Polls • Iowa • John McCain • Mitt Romney • New Hampshire • South Carolina
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Justin, Ada OK

    Well, if you don't enjoy the national name recognition, you got to advertise. The trophy goes to the tenacious...

    October 1, 2007 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  2. Tired right-sider,(trekks) KANSAS

    CNN- some of us from you know where in the mass Mighty RED area full of good christian people that would never teach the children to hate their president. We would like to ask since its that time when its "reach out desperatly to those in that certain voter- base", We really dont appreciate when you let a lot of your reporters/journalist shove cameras in our candidates faces, asking for denomination, in order to stir up more anti-christian(or to some of left viewed intelligent bunch, the cause of all wars)anti-Republican, anti-Bush, and as far as a lot are concern anti-democracy campaign that failed a couple a times, when you were also so confident that every voice in America was behind you. When ol wild Bill comes out and says that it might be time to ease up, and our boss comes out and goes a little off-track in to say the word ISOLATIONISTS, when he usually sticks to Im going say this once and thats it attitude. Its because moderate practical minded voters ar starting to choke also. Other that obsurd notion that every Republican is a christian and there all pushing bibles on people, you might want to know were raising an Army of young chritian conservatives, who accept evolutionary science into their fundamentals. So please back off a little. By the way nancy did ya get a chance to look at that RED STATE REPUBLICAN FARM BILL? It might come in handy to those of us ADAPTATION specialists, who are looking forward to more animal and wildlife destruction to make room for that RED STATE REPUBLICAN ETHANOL GARDEN. Not much room left down there when your flying over us looking at all those neat circles and patches that take insurance to cover, that doesnt cover by the way, exactly. INSURANCE, that thing thats going to take a big hit from that putterhouse .org bunch backing your candidates, that has their own interests in some "medical re-form"- that one that sounds like SuitOn.

    October 1, 2007 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  3. Big Romney Fan, Charleston SC

    Keep it going, Romney! There's been a true leadership drought in Washington for years, and you're the world-class talent this country needs.

    October 2, 2007 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  4. Wynter, Loudon, NH

    I for one find one of Romney's recent advertisements insulting and disgraceful. In a time when we need to be less divisive and bring bipartisanship back to the politics, he uses insulting phrases like "Republicans acting like Democrats" and "spending like Democrats". We have seen enough of this political "hate speech". It's time to tell these candidates that we are "one country" and although we may have separate views we stand together as one nation, not two bickering parties. ENOUGH!

    Telling it like I see it,

    October 2, 2007 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  5. Ken Howell Chapel Hill NC

    Wynter –
    Hate Speech? What is so hateful in what Mitt said? He was simply telling the truth. A few in the GOP have not behaved per GOP mores. And it's difficult to call the Dems on spending when our Senators and Reps do the same thing. When my children act irresponsibly, I point it out. But I don't hate my kids.

    If you don't like Mitt, fine. But I don't see any hate speech here.

    October 2, 2007 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  6. travis

    Lets see, he is the only second tier candidate to jump to the first tier in either party. I guess this is how you do that. Good job!

    October 2, 2007 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  7. Miriam Goldman, Wisconsin

    It's about time someone who doesn't have any national party ties tells it like it is . . . thank you Mr. Romney for getting your message aired – – maybe more Americans will take a serious look at what you stand for and what you want to do as President. Keep up the effort – more and more people are joining your side.

    October 2, 2007 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. Providence, RI

    Romney is flip flop... when he was the Governor of Massachusetts, a part of the tunnel collapsed, and killed a woman, who was on her way to Boston. If Mitt cannot manage a state, how can he run a country or the world?

    October 2, 2007 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  9. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    So Romney hammers Bush for not using the veto power enough to stop pork from Democrats and Republicans and he is divisive?

    Sounds like he is right and not being a partisian hack like so many others.

    You want change, you will find it here. You want someone that will at least try to reach across the aisle to get things done, you will find it here.

    And "providence", if you are blaming Romney for a ceiling collapse that he didn't champion building (Kennedy, Kerry, O'Neill), didn't put one lump of concrete on (union workers every last one of them), and was trying to go after the people that paid for top shelf concrete, but accepted lower grade (ching, ching) and was also stone-walled when he went after the big boys by, you guessed it, the ineffective LIBERAL mass politicians who fought him every step of the way.

    Remember, he was "just being political and running for President".

    Funny though, every time there was a ribbon cutting ceremony or photo-op, every leading liberal (Kennedy, Kerry and Menino) were front and center, but the ceiling collapsed and Romney became the spokesperson, learned the design on the fly and TOOK CHARGE of the situation.

    Since he left office the states Democratic DA decided to "really go after the people" and the result is nothing but a $1000 fine.

    Sorry "providence", he did the best he could with this horrible situation that was NONE of his doing.

    October 2, 2007 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. Keith - Atlanta, GA

    I think its cute "Providence, RI" is weighing in on morals? That's like asking a prostitute to discuss chastity! This is the state that wants to allow felons to vote from the '06 midterm election!

    Bottom line, Mitt is maximizing his exposure where it really matters. There is no national election, so focusing on the areas that will win a nomination are what matters.

    October 2, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  11. Anonymous

    Dear Providence,
    how do you correlate being a flip flop and part of a tunnel falling down? And on what grounds do you attribute a tunnel tragedy on the governor of that state? Did I miss something? Was he also the foreman of that construction crew, and therefore responsible for the accident? Was he the civil engineer responsible for the design? Are you saying that as governor of the state of Massachusetts, he should have been more involved with construction projects? How many construction projects should he have personally reviewed as Governor? Was he negligent by not being a part of the oversight committee for that project?

    Your logic baffles me...how you can say that anyone in a state govt leadership role is at fault for a construction accident? iirc, when that accident happened, Romney stepped in and offered the appropriate level of executive leadership to resolve any issues needed to ensure that the project continued safely.

    October 2, 2007 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. Shawnie Cannon, Grants Pass OR

    Romney is awesome! He aired 10,000 ads because he can. He is a winner. He is winning the states he goes after, the ones that matter. National polls are not significant at this point, not until AFTER the primaries, get a clue – CNN.

    October 2, 2007 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  13. Steve, NY

    Candidates should be prohibited from personally funding their own campaigns. I'm sure our founding fathers didn't envision a political system where only the independently wealthy can successfully run for higher office. Romney should be doing much better in the early primary states given the massive ad campaign he has bought himself. The fact that he isn't makes me question whether he is the right candidate to fire up the Republican base needed to defeat Hillary.

    October 2, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. Jeb S, Denver, CO

    I wonder if any of the ads will show him wearing his magic pajamas or hanging out with his wives.

    October 2, 2007 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Romney (today at least) – is a conservative Republican. While the Democrats are running left wing (and socialist) candidates – Republicans seem to think the polar opposite is the way to go – I would offer that 60% of the country describes themselves as "moderate" – vote for the only candidate who is really that (on either side) Rudy (and liberals he did not eat a baby – that was a Photoshop doctored picture)

    October 2, 2007 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  16. Steve Wittlake Blaine Washington

    The President and Vice President will be someone from a 3rd party not Romney. Americans are fed up with both the GOP and Democrats.

    October 2, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. President George W. Bush, Washington D.C.

    Romney...even though you are a Mormon...you are a great guy! I love the fact that you are going to continue my War for Oil *cough* War on Terror in Iraq! Don't find Osama though because that will mean that we have to pull out of Iraq and I don't want that. When you get elected that will be four more years of Oil revenue *cough* sectarian violence decreasing in Iraq...Just make sure when you're in the White House...you leave me a pair of those "Magical Underpants" you have ok?

    October 2, 2007 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. laurinda,ny

    I see the Ken Doll is back in the news again along with casper. It appears that not too many people are fond of either one of them.

    October 2, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  19. Lee, Mays Landing NJ

    Romney looks great on TV and pictures. He will be the perfect Republican candidate this time. He is the ultimate empty suit, who will change positions and say anything depending on his personal ambitions.

    He believes in nothing other than his own ambition and will sell his empty suit and perfect hair through his money and phony feel good commercials.

    October 2, 2007 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  20. Chris, Pensacola FL

    I hope I don't hear his ads. It would drive me nuts to listen to 10000 ads from the same dude. Perhaps the line of thinking is to bombard our minds with Romneys name. He must be scared of Ron Paul after that Fox News debate. Or should I say debacle.

    October 2, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. dan

    Typical. Everyone moans about party politics, and then they revert right back to it in order to get elected. Yawn.

    October 2, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  22. Terry, El Paso, TX

    "Republicans behaving like Democrats" because they are overspending. George W. Bush and the Congress that went to Washington with him in 2000 and 2004 ran up a bigger deficit than all presidents from Washington to Reagan inclusive.

    Deficits by recent Presidents:
    Truman 0%
    Kennedy-Johnson 6%
    Carter 13%
    Clinton 6%

    Eisenhower 3%
    Nixon-Ford 14%
    Reagan 25%
    Bush (the good one) 28%
    Bush (the other one) 28% first term

    I guess your point is that Eisenhower is a true Republican and Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, and Bush are Democrats pretending to be Republicans?

    I guess also that Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton – fiscally more responsible – are really Republicans in disguise?

    Thanks for the information. I had no idea...

    October 2, 2007 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  23. Terry, El Paso, TX

    Romney ... is a conservative Republican. While the Democrats are running left wing (and socialist) candidates ..." – Chris, Middletown, CT : October 2, 2007 1:26 pm

    Look up socialism in the encyclopedia and list for me the socialist programs proposed by Democrats.

    "Socialism" doesn't mean a policy that doesn't immediately benefit you. "Socialism" doesn't mean a high federal budget unless George W. Bush is a socialist. "Socialism" doesn't mean caring for the old, the sick, the children, and the poor unless Jesus was a socialist (though a pretty good case can be made for that because Jesus despised the private ownership of property and forbade lending or borrowing money at interest). Socialism has to do with the conversion of the means of production from private property to public property. What Democrat proposes the expropriation of steel mills, railroads, or fast-food joints?

    We need to put a lot more money into public education in this country.

    October 2, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  24. sue

    more corruption..they dont have my vote

    October 2, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  25. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    Mitt is not winning – he's buying – just like the Iowa straw poll.

    Ask the people in MA – who elected one man and ended up with someone else.

    Mitt has no principals: whatever you want him to be – he will become ... he was for choice before he was against it – a "life-long hunter" who never had a hunting license, recent NRA member, whose sons are serving their country in air conditioned comfort instead of Iraq and the dog loved traveling in a crate on top of the car ...

    Mitt looks "presidential" – he's a Republican – for some voters – that's all they need to know ...

    October 2, 2007 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
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