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. a well educated woman

    That is it OBAMA!!!!! I made another contibution this week, anything to keep the HOPE FOR CHANGE going. Great debate last night. And to my dear friend ms Caribou Barbie, keep your pie hole shut. Everything coming out of it sounds nasty and down right stupid. You are spreading the smut and it makes me sick!

    October 16, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  2. henriettap

    McCain looked desperate sounds desparate and is truly desparate they straight talk express keeps losing wheels.I don'tknow how long the express is or if it is a bus ,plane or train but they need some repairs their freaking out.

    October 16, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  3. Moo

    Math CNN, math.

    October 16, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. thomas

    Isn't it time we eliminated all campaign spending and force politicians to run on their actual accomplishments?

    October 16, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  5. Jean2

    I approve. That is why I have donated and donated again because I realize money is needed in American politics even when the cause is good.

    Republicans have always had and still have lots of money.

    October 16, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  6. Canadian Visitor

    So this is what buying a Presidency looks like and the phrase – the best president money can buy. By the way, when is Obama going to apologize for repeating a rumour about a McCain supporter at a rally saying kill him when the secret service can not find one other person who heard it other than the reporter himself? Seems they invewstigated because they had xtra officers there and NO ONE heard anyone say kill him. So, will Obama apologize for accusing MCain supporters of radicalism and hatred when the claim cannot be verified?

    October 16, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  7. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    IT IS NOT HILLARY CLINTON
    IT IS NOT JOHN MCCAIN

    IT IS BARACK OBAMA IN 2008!

    YES WE CAN!

    October 16, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  8. April

    I just donated more money to his campaign today.

    October 16, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  9. Independent for Obama!!

    As we all know, a strong economy makes a strong country, well a strong economy also makes a strong campaign. Obama is smart, diligent, consistent, intelligent, strong, focused and has all the qualities we need in a leader. He is truly an amazing commnader in chief and will be the one to get our country back on track. He is amazing! he has run an excellent campaign taking the high road as often and as much as possible. Good for you senator Obama! Keep on going!

    October 16, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  10. OBAMA MAMA

    I know that new reporters aren't supposed to be mathematicians...but c'mon. THREE TIMES THE SPENDING.

    Is that all that McCain can really conjure up again Obama??

    McCain came out strong last night, but Obama endured and maintained his integrity. He didn't need to get snippy or roll his eyes. Good job Obama!!

    October 16, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  11. mms

    Jen,California, your iQ is lower than mccains poll #s.

    October 16, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  12. Corrupt

    Obama has run the most corrupt campaign ever. Who has ever heard of a candidate getting this kind of money, even if every person who backs Obama donated $25 it does not add up. Over $32 million dollars a week. 1/2 hour TV program on him self, ads on TV, radio, computer games, Internet. If it is so successful and so clean then what is the need for all of this. Why are so many transcripts pulled by the Obama campaign from CNN, ABC, Wall Street Journal.

    Why does't the news look into anything about this man, in Chicago they know he is crooked and has many ties to bad people. Chicago is in such bad financial trouble.

    This candidate is a lying to America, look at the fact check from each debate, he is no where near what is going on, and not telling the truth. Oh he is wonderful.

    Hang on why are all the foreign countries for him, because he does not know what he is doing and they look at this as a opportunity to control the US, their dream. All these countries have hated us more than 50 years now care about Obama – run from him.

    October 16, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  13. Dr. Mimi De La Cruz

    AND WE WILL GIVE HIM WHATEVER IT TAKES TO

    DEFEAT THE CRIMINAL PARTY THAT CAUSED

    OUR FINANCIAL DESTRUCTION & LEAD US INTO

    A SERIOUS WAR WITH COMPLETE LIES.

    BUSH & MCBUSH BORROWED & SPENT MORE

    THAN $500,000 PER AMERICAN TAD PAYER.

    THE LARGEST DEFICITE IN THE HISTORY OF THIS NATION.

    AND THEY CALL US TAX & SPEND. WHO IS GOING

    TO PAY FOR WHAT THEY BORROWED & SPENT ?

    WE THE PEOPLE, FOLKS.

    October 16, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  14. VOTE4OBAMA

    McCain’s campaign will do whatever it takes to destroy Obama’s campaign. CNN, you guys need to talk about the Trooper gate report since she’s repeating the lies at her campaign events by saying that she is innocent when she actually violating the status; yet, she is GUILTY! I don’t understand how any thinking person can continue to support someone who lies so brazenly. Especially decent Christians. I wonder if there’s a commandment about that? I mean, she can’t even admit that she is guilty.

    October 16, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  15. Jeanette

    IF Obama didn't have the funds to run his ads he would be SwiftBoated right out of the race.
    The McCain camp can complain all they want, but, Obama's supporters are keeping him well funded so the republicans can't highjack this election.
    Remember 2000?

    October 16, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  16. FactCheck

    > AFTER LAST NIGHT’S DEBATE, I FINALLY GET IT, OBAMA:

    Somehow, I doubt you will EVER get it.

    October 16, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  17. Annette

    So what if he got the money, he should do it, the Republicans just don'thave it this time, because they don't like John McCain no more than anyone else, and will not donate to his campaign.
    Go Obama!

    October 16, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  18. Contribution

    If you bought a bumper sticker, poster, shirt with Obama on it – guess what he did not get a penny. So many of you who think you have donated to the cause – you helped out some vendor. Which overall is better for the economy than getting this imbacil elected. Who knows where all this money is coming from – hey CNN why don't you look into where this is coming from one million people a well giving $32 I don't think so...

    More than ever people why would you vote for someone who embodies everything that has been wrong the last 8 years – war – he wants more, economy and greed – $32 mil a week need I say more.

    October 16, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  19. Ron was a REP now a DEM

    Well managed campaign This is someone I want to run our country not some fear mongering warload pushing for a heros welcome from a falsely entered war.

    Smarten up America John McCains PORK BARREL spending is petty and insuggnificant compaired to the cost of the war in Iraq
    A savings of $18 billion dollars for building our country and infrastructure for one years budget
    The war in Iraq costs $10 billion dollars a month that $120 billion dollars to have our youth mamed and killed.

    October 16, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  20. Thompson

    If McCain had the money to spend he would have done so.... Don't be fooled people.

    October 16, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  21. Palin is a pig without lipstick!

    Bring it Home Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 16, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  22. Ron

    I voted today for Obama. Mail in ballot in California. Go Big O!!

    I have a Republican friend that has been contributing to Barack. After discussing the last debate with me he went off to contribute more dollars!! He got tired of what Bush has done to this country and the lies. McCain quit whining about your lack of funding, Boo Hoo! Besides you are just to old to have enough energy to deal with the problems. We don't need another president like Bush who thinks the presidency is just an excuse to vacation all the time. Could it be that the independent self sufficient Republicans can't part with even a few dollars to support you? Americans who care about our country are sending their dollars to Obama.

    Anyone can see that Barack is leading a brilliant campain and deserves the chance to lead the country the same way!

    No more years!

    October 16, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  23. Samantha in MI

    The reason he has so much money is because people like me, who are struggling to survive on low pay in a crappy job, are donating what little we have to make sure there is finally a change for the better in this country. 8 years of failed Bush/Cheney/Republican congress policies are what got us in this mess and many Americans want a change. People want someone new and a $5 donation might not seem like much but when you get hundreds (or thousands or more) it adds up.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    October 16, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  24. No Hillary = No Obama

    Let's repeat: Barrister Barrack broke his promise as Mr. McCain reminded all of us in the debate last night. He figured he could make a fortune in contributions and so went back on his word that he would rely on presidential public financing. Lawyer joke: how does a lawyer sleep. He lies on one side and then the other.

    October 16, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  25. Alexis

    It's sad to see a leader like Obama has to spend that much money for him to get his point accross and the poll still shows the race is close. That tells me the country still not really confortable with the idea of a black man president. I was watching the post debate analysis last night on CNN, one of the contributor said Obama made clear from the start that he is running for president cause he wants CHANGE but so far I really don't know why is McCain is running for president for?....
    Good job Obama, I have been a big supporter since 2004 and I will be one till the end of you two terms in office. May GOD bless you, your family, the Troops and may GOD bless the USA.

    YES WE CAN.
    SI SE PUEDE.
    OUI NOUS POUVONS.
    OUI NOU KAPAB.

    October 16, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
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