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. Daniel

    That number is absolutely absurd. Don't listen to Obama or Biden talk about change, look to Obama' s supporters who donate modest amounts by the truckload. This campaign will change the way campaigns are run for a long, long time. With that kind of steady hand running arguably the most exemplary campaign in modern politics, it's not much of a stretch to believe he would do the same as President in regards to this country.

    Enough. Even if he isn't perfect, which he isn't, he's the best hope we have, period. Kudos to Axelrod, Plouffe, et al for pulling it off.

    Obama/Biden '08 & '12

    October 16, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  2. Trish

    Gee there must be something going on if everyone is still trying to trash McCain and Palin. Seems like if there was nothing to worry about you Obama fans wouldn't be wasting your time on here. Talk about hateful, vile and disgusting blogs. You all started this when Hillary was against Obama. It is just a continuation of the same. Its a sad time when the economy is so bad and all this money is being spent on any campaign.

    October 16, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  3. Dj

    Go ahead Sen. Obama... finish ripping the top of that can of WHOOP-A!

    October 16, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  4. UMMMM...

    He knows how to manage this campain of his!

    GO BO!

    Here there are tons of McCain ads... ALL negative. I have never seen a negative BO ad, except for online.

    October 16, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  5. Zagazaw

    FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY, A DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE OUT spend a republican candidate, THAT GOES TO SHOW THE FANACIAL STRENGTH OF OBAMA.

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

    I own $850.00 worth of Obama campaign and I am about to kick in another $100.00 before the end of October. Glad to know that I am helping to fund his efforts. I am just one of hundreds of thousands who are sharing $25 $30 $50 $100 etc. donations with Barack.

    Glad to help.

    October 16, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  7. MK

    Looks like my ten dollar contribution is going a long way. I have NO DOUBT that many more people, like me, have contributed ten dollars, twenty dollars when they can and Obama has raised a huge amount of money that way. Just regular Americans supporting a campaign we belive in.

    October 16, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  8. Susan

    Poor McCain is mad because more people donate to Obama.

    McCain, Stop whining like a 2nd grade girl !

    October 16, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  9. Lynnette

    I'm not sure why some people believe that Obama is getting most of his money from large corporations, movie stars, or celebrities, as I have been reading on this blog.
    Let me tell you, it's people like me who support him with $10, $25, $50, $75 donations on a consistent basis that have funded Obama. It always helps me when McCain or one of his supporters try to lie about Obama. I just pull out my credit/debit card and give another donation. There's approximately 2.5 million of us who do that. If everyone just gave $50 bucks a month, he would raise $125 million, $100 bucks a month, $250 million. Can McCain top that?

    October 16, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  10. Simmy

    Please don't hate on this humble hunk of a candidate! Celebrate the historic implications of his campaign-and celebrate the fact that you're witnessing this momentous time!

    GO OBAMA/BIDEN-GO AMERICANS!

    October 16, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  11. Troy B.

    I am seriously doubting the math skills of the CNN crew. Obama is spending THREE times as much as McCain, not four. Good GOD!

    That being said, I am surprised McCain hasn't balled more about this in public.

    October 16, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  12. Zagazaw

    Like I mention, this is the first time the Demorat as ever outsepnd the republican in a Presidenial race. this show one of two things, the financial and economical wisdom of Obama, or the weakness of McCain, or both, ethier way even during the primary Obama financial stength was reveal.

    Who do you want to lead us out of this great economical ctisis? it's youe vote...........

    October 16, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  13. West Virginians For Obama

    Why not? Obama has run the most sucessful, well organized political campaigns in history. He's left himself plenty of spending to spread into the traditionally red states, while McCain's campaign is scrambling back to those same states to try to swing the poll numbers back his way. He should have already secured those states. McCain's campaign is a joke, like some kind of carnival side show. This is a good example of how competent Obama is, and how incompentent McCain is. Imagine our country being run like McCain's campaign. Now imagine it being run like Obama's campain. The decision is a no brainer.

    Obama/Biden 2008

    October 16, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  14. bill from chicago

    look at the list of donors... lots of multi millionares behind this guy. stop fooling yourself. The source of the other 'internet" funds will come out eventually. I fear it will show everyone the truth about Chicago politics...

    October 16, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  15. Lynn, CT

    This was my first contribution to a political campaign as it was that important to me. Could I afford it? No but the way I looked at it, I could not afford not to contribute as I would have even less with a McCain win.

    October 16, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  16. Chuck in Illinois

    Disappointed wrote: "It's a shame he opted out of public funding. This election would have had a whole different tone."

    Yes, it would. Sen. Obama would be swift-boated like John Kerry and made to look like a liar like Al Gore. Instead Sen. Obama is driving the framing of his policies and I can certainly see why that just steams the bullies in the Old Party. I'm real broke up for 'em.

    Kinda sucks, doesn't it?

    October 16, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  17. M. WINNERS

    On October 16th, 2008 4:25 pm ET "Common Sense" posted this "How to be a Republican" on another CNN article's blog but it's so good it needs repeating AND sent to all your friends. You really nailed it "Common Sense"...

    McCain:
    "We don't want to spread the wealth around. We want to hoard it like selfish, heartless prigs, we want self-serving, me-first, country-second attitudes to reign supreme. We don't want the country coming after our SEVEN house that we inherited by marriage, we don't want to provide healthcare for the poor because it might cost us one of our multiple cars, we don't want to be taxed on the handouts that corporate CEOs give us to keep their dirty deals legal.
    No, we don't want to spread the wealth – we're all better of if I keep all the wealth and peddle some "good luck" American Dream/Culture Wars story to you as you struggle to pay for gas, food and electricity this winter!"

    October 16, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  18. AmericanRevival

    You see! Democrats are more than just talk, we actually put our money where our mouth is. Obama is in a better financial situation using funds collected from willing, normal Americans who support his vision for the country. The disgrace is John McCain's use of $84,000,000 of taxpayer money when the country is in economic turmoil. Such a sizable sum of taxpayer dollars could have been used to counteract some of the many recent foreclosures. McCain should be using money specifically given by those who genuinely support his policies, however few. Yet, I must admit, Republicans are not exactly generous with their finances.

    October 16, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  19. Amy

    It's sad that Obama has to spend so much.

    But when the Republican Party is putting out negative information, like that found on the offical website of the Sacramento County Republicans (offensive material that sought to link Sen. Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden and encouraged people to "Waterboard Barack Obama") then I say Obama's money is money well spent!

    McCain should be ashamed of the fight he has fought. It has been dishonorable and beneath him.

    October 16, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  20. Amy

    It's sad that Obama has to spend so much.

    But when the Republican Party is putting out negative information, like that found on the official website of the Sacramento County Republicans (offensive material that sought to link Sen. Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden and encouraged people to "Waterboard Barack Obama") then I say Obama's money is money well spent!

    McCain should be ashamed of the fight he has fought. It has been dishonorable and beneath him.

    October 16, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  21. Qiana H.

    I have actually donated $25 every month since March. I think that Obama made a good decision not to accept the public funding because he knew that his way of receiving donations has been paying off. Now, to actually see a cause for where my money is being spent is "priceless".

    October 16, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  22. Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC @ 4 & 6pm eastern

    JOE THE PLUMBER? NO, JOE THE REPUBLICAN OPERATIVE.

    Wurzelbacher, who says he was playing football outside with his son when he came upon the crowd gathered around Obama, was planted by the Republican party. This would explain how conservative sites got stories posted about him in advance of the debate and how easily everyone else found him for interviews.
    Wurzelbacher is not a registered voter.
    Wurzelbacher may not be licensed in his home state of Ohio.
    Wurzelbacher may be related to Robert Wurzelbacher of Cincinnati, Ohio, who happens to be Charles Keating's son-in-law. Keating was implicated in the Keating 5 scandal.
    Wurzelbacher already owns a few companies, which would contradict his claims of being a plumber looking to buy a small business.

    October 16, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  23. Nimi from NY

    As reported by AP McCain has ties with the Iran contra, the head of his transition team has ties with Saddam Hussein and today it's all over the news that McCain is tied with someone who is benefiting from the war in Iraq. They also that he got free cell towers installed on his property by both Verizon and AT&T. There is so much to hit him with and the Democrats are not taking advantage of it.

    October 16, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  24. phil

    barrack has devised one of the most brillant mechanism of creating wealth ever seen in the history of our political campaign. his ability to create wealth for his campaign is what we need, bcos that shows that as president he will create wealth. simple. we need him and he will win. if u think otherwise then am sorry for you bcos ur otherwise thinking will not result to anything wise or good for you or the country. when a man is smart and bright the people love him but when a man is grouchy and angry the people are turned off.

    October 16, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  25. Franky

    "According to the new surveys, McCain is still slipping in Pennsylvania, Florida, and even Colorado — a state that hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992."

    Ha!!!! I already said about Penn but Florida though, that's just a bonus!! But Colorado...that ain't a bonus, that's a raise!! LOL!!! I'm telling you, is gonna come out from a state we are not even paying attention. Well, it could. Just tell Senator McCain he's gonna need to tweak that "O-line". Why?? Because he's gonna need the protection for the next couple of weeks...they're getting sacked in their own home turf(Red State)! That's not good news...

    October 16, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
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