October 16th, 2008
04:23 PM ET
10 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. John

    It is sad that this is necessary. It's hard to listen to the call ins after the debate and realize just how many Americans buy into McCain,are racially biased, uneducated and gullible, or are willing to continue believing someone who has lied and mislead us more than any candidate in history. I do not believe that many McCain supporters can be filthy rich and greedy. Even if you don't have a firm grasp of the issues, are unwilling to do your own research, or can't understand politics, you can always judge a man by his honesty. McCain has been proven a liar, and misleading con man, this whole election process. You trusted Bush and look where it got you. No Obama is not perfect, but he is a hell of a lot better than THAT!

    October 16, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  2. ObamaBidentoDC

    ACORN Responds to Senator McCain’s Desperate Attack
    October 15, 2008

    On Wednesday, Oct. 15, ACORN National President Maude Hurd issued the following statement in response to Senator John McCain’s attack:

    "We appreciate Senator McCain's effort to stir up the Republican base by attacking a community organization working to increase public participation in our democratic process. However, these attacks reflect an increasingly panicked candidate. Unfortunately, the Senator McCain we saw tonight is very different than the Senator McCain who stood shoulder to shoulder with ACORN at a February 20, 2006 immigration reform event.

    It is clear for us to see that John McCain was for ACORN before he was against ACORN; he was for reform before he was against reform; and he was a maverick before he became erratic. What is really going on here is that Senator McCain and his allies are part of a coordinated effort to engage in what appears to be an unprecedented effort to suppress voter turnout. Repeating a lie doesn't make it true, and the McCain campaign has resorted to the worst type of deceptions in regards to ACORN."

    The Facts:

    ACORN has helped 1.3 million citizens from all parties and all walks of life apply for voter registration.
    In most states, ACORN is required by law to turn in every voter registration card – even in cases where the cards are not valid.
    It is ACORN that has reported almost all of the issues regarding voter registration cards to elections officials, and flagged the suspicious cards.
    Invalid voter registration cards do NOT constitute voter fraud. Even RNC General Counsel Sean Cairncross has recently acknowledged he is not aware of a single improper vote cast as a result of bad cards submitted in the course of an organized voter registration effort.
    ACORN hired 13,000 field workers to register people to vote. In any endeavor of this size, some people will engage in inappropriate conduct. ACORN has a zero tolerance policy and terminated any field workers caught engaging in questionable activity. At the end of the day, as ACORN is paying these people to register voters, it is ACORN that is

    October 16, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  3. chris


    google it

    October 16, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  4. Dadedi

    I make about $15k a year and I have given $85 to obama. At least I know I have a piece of the pie. I cant wait for the swearing in of this true son of America.

    October 16, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  5. K Rose

    There are a lot of ignorant people in this country. I wish Americans would wake up and realize WHITE people are the majority anymore!!! Check out sandrarose.com to see racism still exists especially in Ohio.

    October 16, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  6. Wake UP America

    It is disgusting that this much money is being spent to be elected President. Just buy your way into office! How grand! Wake UP People! You don't always get what you think you are paying for. If all those people who donated all that money put it towards helping the poor, homeless, or even the Katrina victims and now the Galvaston victims our country would be much better off. Think about that next time you donated your dollars......And exactly where did all the money come from? I seem to have read something about questionable foreign donors.....?

    October 16, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  7. Go O!

    Machiavelli, you are my hero. My sentiments exactly. I am happy to pay MORE taxes than those who make less than me. It's not fair any other way. We finally have a democratic candidate who makes sense, wants to spread the wealth, and help the middle man! I am relieved to see that many Americans aren't falling for the fear-mongering tactics of republicans any longer. I am so tired of those who want "Liberty, freedom and less government" but then want to dictate to me that I can't have the freedom of choice on anything! God Bless the middle man, and God Bless America. Now, please get out and VOTE!!!!

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

    I have never, ever before donated money to a political campaign in the 38 years that I have been of voting age. This year I made a $25 donation to the Obama/Biden campaign. It seems that there are many thousands like me... that is where the money comes from, because we know money is needed to fight the wealthy gop.

    October 16, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  9. kayla


    October 16, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  10. Sandra

    Obama cares so much about you, that he is blowing millions of dollars on ads. That money could be better used to help the "American People" Obama has had some of the most offensive, sick ads ever. So many of the respondents on this site can't seem to voice an adult opinion. What is with all the immature name calling?

    October 16, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  11. anne

    I am so glad I gave money to the Obama campaign. Money well spent.
    A little bit here, a little bit there, helping to ensure that McCain gets No Where!!!! McCain and Palin are hate-mongers and fear-mongers and our country has seen too many of those already. Plus...I just want a smart president. Is that really so much to ask?

    October 16, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  12. Jean

    This IS Buying the White House. Of course when your character can't win it for you the only thing left to do is get your Hollywood and Media friends to help you buy it.

    October 16, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  13. Doug D

    Obama outspending McCain on negative ads as well. By over $2 million dollars acording to CNN. The only reason that his percentage of negative ads is so low is because he has so many more.

    But what can we expect from a liar that promised to honor public funding then changed his mind when it was inconvienent. just like he has done so on so many other issues.

    And this is the man you think woulds make a good president.

    October 16, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  14. Texas Teacher

    The Obama camp knew the only way to fight the Republican political machine was to fight fire with fire. Not attack ads.... but getting the truth out there. The difference between Obama's attack ads and McCain's is that Obama is talking about the issues and McCain's stance on them. He exposes him! While McCain uses outright lies and exaggerations to attack Obama.... it's fear and hate mongering of the worst kind!

    McSAME and McBarbie BullDog need to get real. No one can believe anything they say except the die hard Right who truly enjoy the negative attack ads.

    McCain, if you lie down with pigs, don't be surprised if you get up smelling like a HOG!

    October 16, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  15. Sue

    I have given to the Obama campaign and I will continue to give, the amount of money Obama has risen should tell the GOP something.....I made up my mind long ago to turn the TV off everytime Palin and McCain are on.......other than the debate........

    October 16, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  16. Michelle in Denver

    The Obama campaign's organization and superb strategy is a huge indication of how he will be as President. This gives me a lot of confidence in him.

    If the tables were turned the McCain camp would have no problem bragging about how much money they have raised and rubbing it in everyone's faces.

    October 16, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  17. Happy in Arizona

    McCain/Palin and their ads are an insult to the people of the United States. The debate last night clearly showed McCain is an idiot and I am sick of hearing about Joe the plumber. Based on what I have read Joe, didn't pay taxes, and his brother is married to Keating's daughter. I believe this to be a set up by McCain, again. NO MCCAIN, NO MORE OF THE SAME, AND CERTAINLY NO PALIN.

    October 16, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  18. DAVE IN CA

    joe the plumber and the smug smile and elitist attitude of your democratic nominee and his party today just kicked the blue collar workers in the nuts with there attack on Joe the Plumber...... have you all checked the gallup poles today...... your smug candidate better hold on tight because the arrogance of your party is starting to show and that little ditty of wealth re-distribution is starting to shine through... i think obama let the cat out of the bag a little early with that "BONEHEADED" explanation to the plumber..... SOCIALISM IS ON THE WAY WITH YOUR VOTES it is a shame that you are too blind to see it

    October 16, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  19. Mike

    I really want a dumbocrat that has to spend $4-5 dollars to buy every vote running my country. This is typical of liberal waste and the total disconnect they have from reality.

    I hope when the election is over that there is a real investigation into where Obama's money came from. All of his supporters claim poverty. The funds cannot be legal.

    October 16, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  20. Erika,KS

    It's an obscene amount. Goes to show you Obama will do anything to get elected, and hell the press has done everything but hand the presidency to him! He doesn't care. Not about you, not about me. He does care about himself and his ambition and his ego. It's disgusting that the man with the most money wins. That doesn't mean he's the best. He's not.

    October 16, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  21. Texas Teacher

    No matter what Obama does, he is WRONG. I can't believe the media can compare Obama's ads to McCain's! Well, the rest of us see and hear the difference!

    "Never wrestle with a Pig. You will only get dirty. And besides, the Pig likes it!"

    That is how McCain works with his followers. He wrestles with trying to please them. In the process he is really getting dirty! He is starting to smell just like them, isn't he? And, he seems to LIKE IT!

    And that is how I see Obama. He did not bother to wrestly with McCain last night. He refused to stoop to his level. And Nothing would have pleased McCain more!

    It's easy for McCain to throw mud from a distance. But he does not have the.... hmmmmm... how to say it nicely.... something like pecans.... *GRIN* to do it in person. And Obama is much too well mannered to get down on his level and sling mud with him.

    "McCain does his little two step.... side step.... DC shuffle!"
    We are no longer amused!

    Hey, I heard FOX news stole part of my jingle! Dang..... *LOL*

    October 16, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  22. SP

    I guess this is what happens when you promise to take public funds and then "change your mind" when it is convienent. All the people who think McCain's adds are dishonest should take a close look at Obama's statements. Some highlights: I will take public funds, Ayers was just a guy in the neighborhood, Reverend Wright never made offensive statements in front of me over the 20 year period I attended his church (guess he waited for Obama to run for president to turn extreme). None of those things disqualify one for President, but lying to the American people about them probably should.....

    October 16, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  23. jr

    Soon it will be our tax dollars he is spending

    October 16, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  24. MarcosG

    I ponied up some money myself, and I'm glad it seems to be paying off. If people don't like it that Obama has all this money from donations, you could try donating to McCain's campaign.

    Oh wait, you can't, he accepted public financing...

    Was that Tactics or Strategy?

    October 16, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  25. David

    Obama is such a Christian yet he and his family do not celebrate Christmas?? I wonder Why??

    October 16, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
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