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. Bob

    Your stats does not inculde individual organization ads in support of McCain, those ads outnumber Obama's ads by ten to one.

    October 16, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. Zagazaw

    one more thing, for those who have a problem with Obama spending this kind of money, He cannot use the money for any other purpose. and his finacial wisdom tell him that by not accepting public funding he would have a lot more money, This is the man i want to take care of this financial problem he know how to handle money.

    October 16, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  3. the other jd

    I'm in for almost $900 now. And I am neither rich, nor a Hollywood mogul or start. I just don't want McCain nominating anyone to the Supreme Court.

    October 16, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  4. California Voter

    Perhaps Obama should share some of his millions with "the people" instead of running a 30 minute ad campaign. . . . .

    October 16, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  5. Wensley from FL

    "We are the ones We've been Waiting for"!! It is clear that we, the people, are funding this campaign. WE, the people, are buying our country back!!!!!!

    I Love you America!!!! I love you Obama supporters!!! I love you McCain Supporters. Obama will be the Babe Ruth of the Presidency.

    October 16, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  6. sandi

    I have never before donated money to a polical campaign but once the Republicans put Palin in the race, it all changed for me! I not only made a cash donation, I bought 2 t-shirts and 2 bumper stickers for our family cars!! No way was that woman representing this woman on the national stage!!!

    October 16, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  7. Sly Domber

    I gave almost 300! Let's go!

    October 16, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  8. Mike

    Obama isn't buying the presidency.

    Someone else wrote here that "Obama isn't buying the presidency. We Americans are buying it for him."

    I would say it this way. We Americans are buying the presidency and the country BACK from the millionaires and the corporations and we are delivering it to him. Which is exactly the way it is supposed to work. Hang in there America, help is on the way.

    By the way, I make $45k/year and have donated $45 (so far). When the little guy stands up and does what he can the nation benefits and you are seeing the results of millions of little guys (including the real Joe 6-packs) stand up and take a stand.

    That One/Biden '08/'12.

    October 16, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  9. Brian

    Wealth distribution is not getting a rebate or stimulus check because we make too much money, while paying more in taxes than what other people make in a year. By the way, those people got checks. Don't use the phrase wealth redistribution unless you know what it means.

    October 16, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  10. S Burns, Dublin, Ohio

    The first time I ever donated money to an election was this year. I never felt such a critical need for change in our country as I do now.

    I believe that Obama/Biden are our future. I believe that they can and will change our country and get it moving in the right direction.

    Obama is a true leader. Not only does he have a clear vision of what needs to be done for our country, he offers inspiration and hope. Obama is exactly what America needs now.

    Donating to Obama's campaign was one of the wisest investments I've made to date.

    October 16, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  11. J.C.

    What a waste of scarce national resources on such a long campaign!
    We could have used that money for many other constructive improvements in the country.

    Why can't we shorten it to six months?
    Canada does it in three months I think.

    October 16, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  12. Susan Norton

    Welcome to America! A land where you can buy the office of President, especially if the media is on your side.

    October 16, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  13. Susan Norton

    Why is it that McCain gets blamed for everything anyone near the Republican party or supporting him does? Yet, McCain can't even try to connect people who Obama knows by first name or is giving money to as having a relationship with him.

    October 16, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  14. Peter of Oregon

    McCain's lobbyist base has got nothing on Obama's regular American people. I've voted with my pocketbook, and will vote at the polls in a few weeks.

    October 16, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  15. Dave

    This is the first campaign I have ever contributed to. And I am 48 years old! It started with 25 bucks, but the more I saw the republican ticket in action, I knew a couple more donations of 25 bucks were in order. I really can't afford another four more years of trickle down economics.

    October 16, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  16. ate

    it is interesting that how twenty dollars contribution made this kind of victory for Obama. thus why i belive unit is strength. go obama for 2008-2012.

    October 16, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  17. KT

    Obama DOES have public financing, folks – it's called public contributions – he is not wasting public TAX dollars on a campaign – his public supporters are financing the entire thing – THAT is genuine public financing!!
    McCain looked angry and defensive and whining – vote for MEEEE. Sorry. He's hung up on Ayres, because of Viet Nam. He's hung up on Winning at any cost in Iraq because of NAM – he didn't get a win in HIS war, so he has to push THIS war, or any other he might start, to get the WIN he feels cheated of. The man needs serious therapy. I don't want him or his bubblehead V.P. anywhere near the White House. Obama/Biden 08 and 12

    October 16, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  18. To All Americans

    Okay folks, Barack stepped up to the plate. Who's next? We have brainpower in this country that we haven't tapped yet because the brain is in a Latino, or Asian, or Native American, or female. We have people who have given up their dream of becoming the president because they didn't look like George Washington. Well guess what, no one does. There's only one George Washington, and he's dead.

    So step up Americans, if you have the brains and the character, go for it. Go for your dreams. Barack has paved the way and now it's your turn.

    Just a side note:
    Make sure you're ready to lead the country. Go to school, and do well. Learn how to speak properly and choose your friends wisely. When you're ready–go for it. We wil back you up, but be ready.

    October 16, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  19. Cynthia; Bham

    As I see those that have do it and those who don't like McCain complain about it. I noticed last night when McCain brought it up and it really sounded like he was jealous that he did not have the amount of money that Obama has. Trust me, if McCain had any inkling that he could have done what Obama has done he would have done it too but knew that he could not.

    October 16, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  20. Bill

    Hmmm,
    Ever wonder where all that money is coming from? First, who is going to benefit? If you love socialism you'll love Obama.

    October 16, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  21. Tom - Denver

    My fellow Republicans,

    How can Obama be so wrong on taxes and be accused of "redistribution of wealth?
    The tax levels that Obama is talking about seemed fair enough to Ronald Reagan and to us when Reagan was president.

    How is Obama's tax increase on households with $250,000 income is "redistribution of wealth" any different than when Bush lowered our tax rates and increased the deficit?

    October 16, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  22. Mikey

    Nice. Headline says Obama outspending four to one, yet all the figures in the article support ratios of between two and three to one.

    While the ads are important toward for a candidate, for most voters, the debates and coverage are at least as important.

    My wife and I have invested about 2% of our income into the Obama campaign because, Obama is the best candidate for President in a generation, the Bush Administration has done more damage to the United States than any single group in history, McCain is wrongheaded and will largely do more of the same, Palin is so unqualified as to be truly scary as VP.

    October 16, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  23. A NATION OF WINERS

    SO WHAT!!!!!

    SOME OF IT IS MY MONEY.

    I GAVE SOME OF IT TO HIM.

    I HAVE LOST MORE THAN $450,000 SINCE BUSH & MCBUSH

    STARTED DEREGULATING EVERYTHING THEY CAN THINK OF.

    DEREGULATION = NO BROKEN LAWS WHEN MONEY MISSPENT.

    = THOSE THAT DID IT GET AWAY WITH IT.

    October 16, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  24. Betty777

    Isn't this a free country for all? Obama can spend as much as he wants. And by the way, McCain is lying when he signed the form saying he would accept the Public Funds. He never signed the paper, go on line and find it, my goodness.

    I contributed money to his campaign and I am not a foreigner from another land, I am not a lobbyist. Obama can spend my money anyway he sees fit in this campaign, so GET OVER IT! He understands the uphill challenge just trying to convince people that he is not the bad person that the GOP tries to paint of him with their constant lies and twisting. .

    October 16, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  25. Bill in Missouri

    The old war "hawk" McCain seems to be molting...and screaching...like fingernails scratchching on a chalkboard. In the music business, we say "if you can't play well, play loudly." Mr. McCain seems to talk VERY LOUDLY...and to say nothing meaningful on the issues. Mr. McCain's repetitive platitudes, trite (and redundant) political expressions and cookie-cutter comments during debates and other public appearances give me absolutely NO idea what he would DO as President of the United States. Therefore, I have to depend on newscasters and political analysts to translate for me exactly what he said. Mr. McCain should "talk softly and carry a big stick", as did his idol Teddy Roosevelt...a history lesson Mr. McCain has obviously heard (and mentions often)...but never learned from. "And you, Mr. McCain are no Teddy Roosevelt." And as for Sarah Palin...she just seems to me to be a cute perky naive little cheerleader dressed up for Halloween in a Vice Presidential Nominee Costume! (You betcha'!! .Wink! Wink!). OMG! Give me a break! I would gladly pay higher taxes just to get Ms. Palin off my television screen! Go Obama-Biden '08.

    October 16, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
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