WASHINGTON (CNN) – White House hopefuls and independent groups backing their candidacies are now spending an eye-popping $1.9 million a day on network television advertising, less than two weeks before Iowa holds the first presidential nominating contest of the 2008 presidential race.
This is an all time record, as is the $83 million total that has been spent in 2007 alone on ads related to the presidential race, according to the analysis by TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG, CNN’s consultant on campaign television advertising spending. Comparatively, $45 million was spent at this same date in 2003, by the Democratic candidates vying to challenge President Bush.
“Presidential campaigns continue to get longer and more expensive,” said Evan Tracey, chief operating officer of CMAG. “Advertising is the amplifier for politics.”
Most of these commercials are airing in Iowa at all times of the day. A comprehensive review of airtime in Iowa on December 18 shows that 1093 campaign ads aired, which equals more than nine solid hours of commercials in a 24-hour time span.
“What makes this even more astounding is that in addition to the 1,100 ads on broadcast TV, there are another 3,000 running ads running every day on local cable systems,” Tracey said. “And with Christmas just days away, from a strategic political standpoint this is the time the campaigns have to be the loudest.”
Tracey noted that in the 2008 race for the White House, candidates have focused their television ad buying on seven states compared to the 15 states Democratic presidential hopefuls touched in 2003.
Tracey suggests a compressed nominating calendar is the reason why the ad buys are so concentrated.
“It is not apples to apples,” Tracey said. “The calendar has made this a year unto itself.
“Candidates have spent twice as much in half as many states than they did four years ago,” he added.
The biggest spenders include: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney, who are expending $400,000 a day to run ads in the early voting states. Clinton and Obama are seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, while Romney is running for the GOP nod.
In Iowa, alone, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is spending $54,000 a day to promote Clinton; the United Brotherhood of Carpenters funded organization “Working 4 Working Americans” is spending $30,000 on behalf of Edwards; and the Club for Growth is spending $16,000 opposing Mike Huckabee’s candidacy.
–CNN Political Editor Mark Preston