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. Stephen

    4.5 is three times 1.5 - not four. CNN, please explain your math or fix your facts.

    October 16, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  2. Vic

    To Barbara-65 yr. old white female in NC: This 80 year old white female in Texas refutes your notion that Obama's ads are not offensive. They are, and what's more, last night's debate showed that BO is not shy about telling whoppers as well. Examples? How about Ayres, ACORN, and trade with Canada. Anyway, just say that your guy is Mr. Wonderful. Does that mitigate your and others' rude and downright offensive personal remarks about John McCain? One might think you'd think twice before you called a person who valiantly fought for us and paid with 5 and one-half years of prime-time in his life to suffer pain and indignities we can all only read about. Here's a man who'll protect us no matter what.

    October 16, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  3. Ryan

    Obama has revolutionized campaigning. Unlike McPain, who gets money from corporations and special interests, Obama's comes from the PEOPLE! TIME TO END THIS, AMERICANS!! STAND AND VOTE. WE WILL DEFEAT MCBUSH!!

    October 16, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  4. Vic

    I just have to address my fellow Texan, Bob, who thinks we should think of Obama's obscene expenditures in an election as injecting money into the economy. I say it's more like "spreading it around," the wealth that is.

    October 16, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  5. Spend away

    It would be nice not to have to spend all that money just protecting your name from the idiocy of the misleading McCain adds on the air.

    Where is all that Lobbyist money going within the G.O.P. ?

    October 16, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  6. jrzshor

    Has someone calculated the cost to become a US president?
    Will $450 million be on the low end next time around?

    October 16, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  7. Stephen

    I think it is unfortunate that Sen. Obama has to outspend Sen. McCain 3 to 1 (3*1.5 = 4.5) in order to counter the lies Sen. McCain willingly spreads to the American people.

    We have already had one president willing to lie to America, and Sen. McCain would be four more years of this ethic.

    October 16, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  8. ohio

    Obama has the money and the power now so mccain is done

    October 16, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  9. Ron was a REP now a DEM

    Married to a Seperatist, fostering hate crimes,and condoning racial slurs this does not sound very American.

    Secert service will remove hecklers though.

    GOP new code words :

    Socialist ,Liberal, community organizer, Leftist = Unamerican

    October 16, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  10. tigerakabj

    Barack, mo' money is on the way. Since McCain would rather talk about ACORNS instead of the economy, you need a little more something to counter-act that crap.

    Don't let up on them Obama. When you get up in McCain's face, he backs down like a wuzz.

    Obama/Biden 8/12.

    October 16, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  11. Juan

    I'll say this, I'm a college student... and as any typical college student will tell you, I'm not rich.

    I, however, have found it in my finances to be able to give the Obama/Biden campaign over $100 in the last 4 months.

    I'm glad my money is being well spent; I can see a bright future already.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 16, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  12. Wise White Guy

    Thats why i sent my money to him. It is the only way to fight the smear and fear campaign the Republicans ALWAYS run. Not to mention the nutbag NRA that puts out complete garbage. I fact checked it all and not one thing they are saying is true about Obama and guns. We heard the same spew when Clinton was running and last time i checked, not only do i still have all of my guns i have more now than i did before he was elected. Hunters for Barack! The negative ads are basically one sided in this campaign. Obama only puts out ads that resemble negative ads because he is pointing out truths about McCain policies. Those are negative because his policies are bad you idiots and we need to know that information. The only other negative ads Obama runs are in response to the mud slung his way. He has to respond to those or we know what happens. If you hate the mud tell John McCain about it in the next poll and most importantly, tell him on election day!

    October 16, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  13. Zagazaw

    Again, Why would McCain keep talking about together and country, yet he refuse to share the WEALTH, and talking about country first yet against paying tax to the country you clain to love so much. the more money you make the less you contribute to this great nation, that dose not make sense to me.

    October 16, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  14. Anthony

    Look at "That One" kick McCains butt =)

    October 16, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  15. Jamie, ND

    We're giving the money to Barack so that he can spend it. We want this candidate to win, and win he will.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 16, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  16. Leslie, VA

    I'm writing the Obama campaign another check next week. This country is worth it. I wouldn't give one red cent to McCain. Let him spend his own money.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 16, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  17. JFK

    Because more people support Obama! Its plain and simple. McCain is just being a cry baby. Aaaw! Poor Johnny!

    October 16, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  18. Erik

    Well, Obama can afford to spend this much because people SUPPORT him, and send him money.

    October 16, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  19. McWho??

    Good thing he was wise enough to fall into the trap. But any smart person could forecast what the Republicon strategy would be. Obama is a very wise man. I think his insight is the mark of a great leader.

    October 16, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  20. No Clue About Issues!

    To Simmy (6:29)

    It's individuals like you who have no clue about politics, voting for Obama, because is (as you referred to him) a "hunk" or to some who say he is "creative" or has "pretty teeth."

    Give me a break?

    How is that GED working for you Einstein?

    October 16, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  21. Rob indetroit

    Money talks MCbush MCpalin walks OBama-Biden 08-12'

    October 16, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  22. Ellie

    It's nice to see that some people have all that $$$$ when most people are seeing their 401k's and pensions slipping away. But somehow, somehow, a person who has just spent all that $$ in his campaign is really going to help Mid America. I don't think so! Then again, there's always Biden. Apersonwho has been in the senate for many yrs and who has tried, unsuccessfully, to be president. We wouldn't vote for him to be president but we're going to vote for him to be VP?????

    October 16, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  23. mitch

    thank you for using my $ so wisely, barack. you will do well restructuring our economy to work for the real 'joes' out here. GOP should dissolve as a party.

    October 16, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  24. Phil Newton from Murphy, Oregon

    Whatever it takes.

    Obama 08!

    October 16, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  25. Herman In LA

    That's good news I'm donating more right now...

    October 16, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
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