October 16th, 2008
04:23 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama outspending McCain 3-to-1 on TV; could exceed $110 million in October

Sen. Obama is outspending Sen. McCain 4-to-1 on campaign commercials.
Sen. Obama is outspending Sen. McCain 4-to-1 on campaign commercials.

HEMPSTEAD, New York (CNN) –- Barack Obama is on track to spend more than $110 million on campaign commercials in October, an outstanding sum that does not include payment for the 30-minute network prime-time ads scheduled to air six days before Election Day.

Obama’s decision to opt out of the presidential public financing system has given him a distinct advantage over John McCain when it comes to airing political commercials. Obama’s daily spending on campaign ads is three times more than McCain’s – $4.5 million to $1.5 million – according to an analysis by TNSMI-Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN’s consultant on political advertising.

Obama’s spending translates into about 7,700 airings of campaign commercials each day, more than double the 3,600 ads being run by McCain. Both candidates are running the ads in key battleground states. Obama is also on the air nationally, on network and cable, buying ads on NFL football games, soap operas and in primetime.

Obama is expected to spend between $1 million and $1.5 million on the 30-minute campaign commercials that will air on CBS, FOX and NBC on October 29, projects Evan Tracey, CMAG’s chief operating officer.

“This is more than just a message imbalance,” Tracey said. “This is, in media terms, a rout. John McCain is in a shouting match against a guy with a megaphone.”

Tracey estimates that by the end of the week, Obama will have spent more than President Bush did on campaign ads in 2004. During his successful re-election bid, Bush spent around $190 million - and the president went on the air in 2004 four months before Obama turned his focus to the general election in June of this year. To be fair, Obama has been running ads since June 2007 - during a primary battle that lasted far longer than anyone expected - but those commercials focused on his battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Tracey also said that Obama can legitimately claim he is running a 50-state campaign because he is buying network and national cable advertising.

In the general election, Obama could potentially spend north of $250 million, while McCain might be in for $130 million. The Democratic nominee has also purchased his own channel on the Dish Network where he shows campaign videos.

“Obama is re-writing the rulebook for presidential advertising,” said Tracey.

Television ad spending by all of the candidates and interest groups in the primaries and general election could reach $800 million.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (217 Responses)
  1. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Obama's ads are not offensive.

    McCain's ads are an insult to the intelligence of the people having to watch them and listen to the old worn our guy.

    October 16, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  2. John Smith

    Here is my best POSt for this DAY:

    "wow…I think I finally know what's happened: McCain and Lieberman accidentally switched their geriatric medicines in the Senate locker room and they're both all kinds of smuckered! Quick, someone call Physician Smurf and tell him Papa Smurf is losing the election because he's acting all crazy!"

    October 16, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  3. Micheal shoemac republican voting for Obama in miami florida

    im happy that my money is being spent well

    October 16, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    OOPS – typo

    Obama's ads are not offensive.

    McCain's ads are an insult to the intelligence of the people having to watch them and listen to the old worn out guy.

    October 16, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  5. CLINTON

    THANK GOD THE MARKETS CLOSED WITH A RISE, HOPE TOMORROW TOO.

    OBAMA STOP WASTING A LOT, CAN'T YOU SEE THE RECESSION?

    October 16, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  6. Cathy Agu

    He is creating employment for the people.

    It is money he is pumping into the system for the average person.

    Why not...do u want him to take the business to China?

    October 16, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  7. Independent White Woman for Obama

    And every time I hear Sarah Palin talk or John McCain lie about Obama's record, I donate 15 more dollars!

    October 16, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  8. Debby

    WOW and us poor over 250 crowd have to pay for his tax cuts if this joker gets elected. Tell me how Obama is for helping the Am. people again when he spends 110 million in one month?????????

    October 16, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  9. INDEPENDENT

    THIS IS ONE OF THE FIRST ELECTIONS THAT THE DEMOCRATS HAVE OUT SPENT THE REPUBLICANS. THE REPUBLICAN ALWAYS HAVE STRONG CORPORATION BACKING AND THE RICH. RNC IS WAY AHEAD OF THE DNC DUE TO LARGE CORPORATE CONTRIBUTION!

    JOE THE PLUMMER WAS A REPUBLICAN PLANT IN LAST NIGHTS DEBATE. MCCAIN THE REPUBLICAN TRICKERY WILL CONTINUE TO BACK FIRE AS THE PEOPLE JOBS AND INCOMES FALL.

    OBAMA 08

    October 16, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  10. Nevada MOM

    Yes, the people who have donated to Obama's campaign have made a real impact on this election.
    Our collective donations have helped to drown out the blaring lies from the right, with as many television ads as our money can buy!
    The voice of the people is being heard loud, clear, and often!

    October 16, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  11. crystal mitchell

    Work it out Obama, you have to pay to play. And you came to win for the people. What they are not saying is that it's the people that's backing you. The money is coming from the people. You had confidence in the people and the people have confidence in you. McShame don't hate, I'm sure with all your so call conservative supporters that running ads is not a problem. Oh I forgot you guys don't believe in sharing the wealth.

    October 16, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  12. Preco, NY

    The CARL ROVES of this world wrote the campaign play book of the Republicans with LIES, FEAR, DIVISION and DELUSION.

    These have become entrenched such that even McCain believes it will help him win the elections.

    Now, we all know that to be able to dislodge establishment it must take a glaring contrast from doing things in the establish way and manner.

    Obama and his campaign knew what the uphill task was from the on set, they set their priorities and did not deviate.

    It costs Money to make meaningful CHANGE come true!! Good thing we the ordinary American people bought into this refreshing idea of change and contributed bit by bit, No Lobyist Donations!!!

    October 16, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  13. Catholic-mom-4-OBAMA

    WONDERFUL! CONSIDERING THAT THE AVERAGE DONATION TO SEN. OBAMA'S CAMPAIGN WAS ABOUT $20! AMERICANS HAVE FUNDED THE CAMPAIGN!

    Interesting that McCain has not made....... not even close the amount of money Sen. Obama has!

    Of course, the far-right-hate-fear-and-lie mongers will continue to lie and make-up vile ads against Sen. Obama.

    The Republicans DO NOT GET IT! We are sick and tired of their lies, their hate and their vile politics!

    October 16, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  14. Felly

    Obama is the real deal. McCain should drop Palin and run with his new found lover, Joe the Plumber.

    I approve this message.

    October 16, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  15. Red, Red WHINE!!

    Before you even go there, remember, he has more money because he is better with economics/finances, inspires more people, has a better game plan, is more concise with his direction, and leads his campaign that many dollars worth better!

    So when you say he's buying the election, you are wrong...WE THE PEOPLE ARE BUYING IT FOR HIM!! And don't forget, we're the ones you like to call poor and wanting welfare...we're the ones GIVING our money to others. Why? Because we put country first!

    Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

    October 16, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  16. Abby

    My money is being well spent, Thank God!!! I will send as much as I am able.

    October 16, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  17. Catholic-mom-4-OBAMA

    PS. I am glad that we have been able to donate monthly to Sen. Obama! Spend the money, well sir!

    As Don Quixote would say, "ONWARD TO GLORY!"

    AMERICANS REJECT THE REPUBLICAN-HATE-LIES-AND-FEAR MONGERING!

    October 16, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  18. irishspacemonk

    He's spending his supporters money well, and helping support those markets economically. What's wrong with that in a recession?

    October 16, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  19. Chi4Obama

    Why does that McCain camp try to spin the fact that Barack has a lot of money to spend on t.v. ads. as a "negative".

    Ummm, isn't that the point of raising money in a campaign (to use on things like commercials, etc).

    Can Barack help it if he is so popular.

    October 16, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  20. Obamalism

    Obama's adds are not one iota better than McCains. They're both hypocrits if they claim otherwise.

    I'm still waiting to hear on the investigation into Obama's funding sources. It's kinda odd he can get soooo much from small doners in such a tough economy.

    October 16, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  21. Central Florida

    I'm glad to see my first contributions ever to a presidential campaign going towards a positive movement. The majority of Obama's recent ads address the issues to lift this country up again. That's leadership.

    Obama/Biden '08
    May God Bless America!

    October 16, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  22. Debby

    Obama spends 110.mill in a month and he is telling Joe the plumber to share the wealth. Are people kidding voting for this joker.

    October 16, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  23. Felly

    Joe the Plumber is another stunt pulled by McCain to focus on taxes after the first stunt of suspending his campaign due to the economy backfired. Both McCain and Joe the Plumber do not want to pay taxes yet they want Government to bail out Banks and Wall Street. You Hypocrites.

    Obama '08

    October 16, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  24. Ork

    All this is intrestring, but what is remarkable is that Obama is doing two things at once – he is fund-raising and campaigning, both at the same time. McCain is free from any stresses of raising money, and RNC is pitching it in for him. Still Obama is single-handedly beating him, with dignity and truth on his side.

    October 16, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  25. Chicken coming home to roast - Nov 4

    100 million is still less. I hope every other American contribute 5$ or 10$ to this (OUR) campaign. As President Obama says, this election is never about [him] but about the American people.

    Long live President Obama

    October 16, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
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