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. Marc PDX

    Since Obama has the election wrapped up now, how about using some of these excess millions of dollars to reduce taxes rather than spending it on additional and unnecessary advertsing?

    October 16, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  2. Canadian

    Amy,
    I too thought it is sad that THAT-ONE has to spend so much. Like you said, he probably has to remember what happened in 2004 and 2000. W has affected not just America but the entire world. Im not an American but Im one big supporter of Obama and Joe (THE BIDEN). $110 million is a lot but the cost of losing would be a lot more.
    Good luck to you Obama supporters!

    October 16, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  3. Marc PDX

    King Obama reigns

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

    Glad not to be a liberal. It is better to be on the losing side than to be one these people commenting on this article.

    I will suspect his black shield will vanish after he is elected and he will be plagued by one scandal after another. He will serve only one term most likely not to even be re-nominated by his own party.

    This should be a hugh achivement for african americans but it will very likely turn into a nightmare.

    With many very qualified african americans to chose from this is crazy.

    October 16, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  5. Ron was a REP now a DEM

    I like John McCains plan to help the rich from redistributing their wealth. Like his proposal to be able to right off losses on the stock market.

    Think America that will not include you and what you have lost over the past year. That only would apply to those thatr have deposable cash to play the market with.

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

    I think it clearly speaks about how the American people feel. I've never given money to a candidate before, but I've donated to Obama's campaign several times this year. It's a lot cheaper than moving to Canada.

    October 16, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  7. big ed

    Turns out that Joe Wurzelbacher from the Toledo event is a close relative of Robert Wurzelbacher of Milford, Ohio. Who"s Robert Wurzelbacher? Only Charles Keating"s son-in-law and the former senior vice president of American Continental, the parent company of the infamous Lincoln Savings and Loan. The now retired elder Wurzelbacher is also a major contributor to Republican causes giving well over $10,000 in the last few years.

    What a "coincidence"!

    Joe the Plumber's plumbing license EXPIRED in 2002.

    Hard to BE a plumber with an EXPIRED LICENSE!

    October 16, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  8. Lois in CA

    The absolute irony to me: McCain grumbling about Obama's spending, when Obama in NOT spending any taxpayer money on his campaign. Wow!

    October 16, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  9. Mary

    I wonder where is Obama really getting all this Money from to do these ads on tv, this is no small chunk change, Obama is not to be trusted, he got to many secrets in his closet, and I dont care what the Main Media says, they are putting us in danger when they keep personal info on a candiate out of our sight, I cant wait untill the truth about him is revealed, then what will the media say then oh we didn't know, when they new all a long, WHY DONT THEY ASK FOE HIS BIRTH Certificate, there afaid to ask this, because they know he not an American, and I find Obama Ads are not truthful.

    October 16, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  10. Ron was a REP now a DEM

    Victorious surge in Iraq now new religous cleansing in northern city

    October 16, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  11. Three More Weeks

    The Republican's have their own 24 hour a day message machine working on their behalf for free. If you added up the time Fox News alone spends promoting McCain and attacking Obama that would add up to many more millions that Obama could ever raise.

    Besides, think of all the money the Obama campaign is pumping into local economies!

    I gladly gave money and for every nasty comment I will most likely give more.

    October 16, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  12. j

    I think Obama needs to change his air time so that he doesn't cut into the World Series. People will remember that and not take it too kindly. 6 days before the election is no time to tick people off.

    October 16, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  13. Tradesmart

    He spent my money during The Jon Stewart Show & Stephen Cobert!!!!

    October 16, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  14. REG in AZ

    It doesn’t matter if someone is a Republican, a conservative Christian or even a racist, for most anyone to vote for McCain-Palin it would simply be like ‘shooting oneself in the foot’. Even those making over $250,000 who would get an Obama tax increase, with McCain-Palin they would still have to endure a further declining economy, continuation of the misguided war effort, no real resolutions for medical, education, energy, immigration,,, and the furthering of a focus on Special Interests while giving everyone else just subterfuge and the costs. It should be perfectly clear from all that has transpired during this election cycle that all Palin and McCain offer is deceptive rhetoric boldly presented, a lack of integrity, arrogant insincerity and more of the self-serving Bush style politics. Whether agreeing with all of Obama’s positions or not, it should be clear that they do sincerely address the issues with the people in mind and that in contrast the McCain positions can neither be trusted nor expected to help the majority of people. Even the offered scare that Obama represents a tax and spend ‘big government’ mentality has no real basis, as what the Bush-Cheney administration has done, that the McCain-Palin positions clearly indicate they would continue, is outspent, including more ‘pork barrel’ items, then any administration before. Last night, after the debate the ‘Fact Check’ segment even pointed out that McCain’s proposals were more costly (and without anything offered to pay for them) than Obama’s. The truth is that unless people can check their prejudices, put aside their biases and be rational and objective to see that their emotional attachments could be used to sway them, then their voting for McCain-Palin not only may be asking for ‘more of the same’ but also is very likely not in their best interests.

    October 16, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  15. Brenda in Detroit

    My little $25 donations are in that figure. It is millions of people like me donating paltry amounts that are winning this campaign!!! I am PROUD to donate to Obama/Biden '08.

    October 16, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  16. Bob-64 Year old American Vet

    Obama The Socialist .......

    No Thanks !

    October 16, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  17. Molly

    ... and now I'm going to donate some more to help him keep doing just that.

    The racists, fear-mongers, hate-inciters and neocons who now control the Republican party – and have aparently led John McCain to forsake every principle he once stood for – deserve to be outspent, out ground-supported and drowned out by the voices of the American people.

    October 16, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  18. the Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Barbara – 65 yr old white female in NC Not only are his ads offensive but he is certainly spending a lot of money on them. Not sure you can see them from you one bedroom trailer that you live in.

    Are you sure you are you and not an "Obama staffer"?

    October 16, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  19. Bob in Texas

    Think of all that spending as Obama injecting a lot of money into our economy.

    October 16, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  20. Pete

    I know this won't be printed but may Obama could cut loose of a little extra time show us his birth certificate and all his college transcripts for us so we know who the man behind the curtain really. I had to show my birth certificate to seel real estate and he's running for president and refuses to??? Liberals, please help and explain this to me since you have all the answers!

    October 16, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  21. Lyndon,CA

    It can be all for nought should he loose on Nov. 4. And what a big zero that would be!

    October 16, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  22. Machiavelli, Baton Rouge, LA

    I make closer to $200,000 dollars a year, and I have no qualms about paying my taxes. My country, the United States of America, has been good to me and I want to help sustain America's success.

    For those of you "patriots" who complain about paying your share of taxes, move to another country.

    October 16, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  23. Lyndon,CA

    When you have people shouting "KILL HIM" and "TERRORIST", you have to counter that rhetoric.

    October 16, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  24. Jim

    Nice going Johnny!
    So Joe the plumber is really named Samuel ____? No liscense to Plumb? Related to your buds in the Keating five? I remember clearly when tricky dick needed a "plumber" he simply made a phone call to the NSA Op's center, which your blackberry has been pre-programmed for.. (in case of panick). Did you just inadvertenley enter a kicking contest with one leg? Keep it up Gollum you are right where you were meant to be !

    October 16, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  25. Jeff

    McSame is old and out of touch with reality...

    October 16, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
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