October 12th, 2008
10:08 AM ET
12 years ago

Both campaigns spending about the same on negative ads

A McCain ad calls Obama 'not presidential.

A McCain ad calls Obama 'not presidential.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The race for the White House is being waged in the final weeks in American living rooms through a blitz of negative campaign commercials.

And though Sen. Barack Obama's campaign circulated a University of Wisconsin Advertising Project study earlier this week indicating all of Sen. John McCain's ads are negative compared to just 34 percent of Obama's, both campaigns are spending about equal amounts on attack ads.

An analysis of campaign commercials aired over the last seven days shows Obama outspent McCain nationwide by more than 2-1: $21.5 million vs. $9.2 million.

Watch: Negative ads dominate the campaign homestretch

But just under half of the money Obama is spending is going toward negative spots, meaning the Illinois senator is roughly keeping pace with his GOP rival when it comes to negative commercials, in terms of cash spent.

Check out CNN's Ad Spending Election Tracker

Campaign Media Analysis Group's Evan Tracey, CNN's consultant on campaign advertising, said Obama's cash advantage over McCain provides the Illinois senator with a luxury McCain cannot afford: the means to run both positive and negative TV spots.

"McCain is almost all negative because he needs to be," Tracey said, adding that McCain is "behind in the polls and outgunned."

Full story

soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. S. Boatman

    I Hope Your Campaign Runs Out Of Money Mccain!

    October 12, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  2. TAINOPOWER

    OBAMA CAUGHT SAYING ACORN AND FRIENDS WILL SHAPE HIS PRESIDENTIAL AGENDA

    Obama said ACORN and friends, responsible for voting fraud and the suibprime crisis, are going to be shaping policy for an obama presidency? Is this is the kind of president we need a corrupted one already. just can’t wait to get to the white house to get corrupted.

    October 12, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  3. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    And for every one of those negative ads, and for each of their lies, distortions, misleading insinuations, and misstatements, each campaign should be thoroughly ashamed and heavily FINED! THAT would cure our budget deficit!

    October 12, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  4. Juan Grain

    When you get punched in the mouth after they swore not to, you punch back and you do it hard. Hard enough to make sure that they get it!

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 12, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  5. blaising

    Obama is smart. He has learned an important lesson from '00 and '04, that there must be an attack component in a successful campaign. It's all about appealling to ALL the people...some of 'em want, NEED, this kind of politics.

    Too bad it's this way...has to be though.

    October 12, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. mitch

    barack's ads are all mostly true. check cnn fact-checks. most of john's are untrue, and ALL are negative. barack is honest,mccain is not.

    October 12, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  7. jayeandvic

    Obama's ads are about policy – McCain's ads are about hate and doubt and fear mongering and lies.
    John McCain and Palin are shameful, and both should be kicked out of office.
    Our country dosen't need "leaders" like McCain and Palin.
    It's time to stop the hate they're spreading!!!

    October 12, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  8. brian

    Meaning the large difference in their expenditures is all Obama positive ads. Very nice.

    October 12, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  9. Rodger

    The Obama campaign has said they will hit back and respond to all negative add. The Democrats will no longer be victims to the swiftboating adds and lies of the right wing liars. All the McCain campaign can do is to air negative adds...they have nothing new to say, and the American people will say no, and will vote Democratic up and down the ticket!!!

    October 12, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  10. Denise

    I doubt that. McCain has ran nothing BUT negative ads, even during the Olympics. Obama has had both type of ads

    October 12, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. Nero

    It is not up to John McCain's campaign to decided for us who is Presidential or not. It's up to the American people!

    October 12, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  12. AZVoter

    The negative campaigning works better for McCain.

    The woman who said Obama is an arab, didn't belive McCain when he told her, face to face, that Obama isn't.

    These people aren't voting for McCain, they're voting against Obama.

    October 12, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  13. Bonnie O., Raleigh, NC

    Don't you both get it???? We're ALL tired of the negativity!

    Obama '08!

    October 12, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  14. SUE

    I am in Montana and am concerned about the recent Acorn scandel. There was Obama run campaigns here for voter registration and when I told them I already was registered, they had my daughter and I sign up for absentee ballots. I received the ballots by mail. Where is the protection from folks using these absentee ballots to vote under false names. No I.D. REQUIRED.

    October 12, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  15. Palin is a Patriot Act

    Obama runs as many negative ads, PLUS he runs positve ads. McCain runs NO positive ads. Obama can run both because he has superior funding – by the people, for the people.

    October 12, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  16. ooouch!

    100% of McCain ads have been attacks, 99% of t5hem have "lies", "miss truths" and are "misleading", his un vetted, under investigation VP pick was found guilty of abuse of power and breaking ethic laws and John McCain wants us to believe that Obama is "UN Presidential"? Really? from a man like McCain, who no rational person can ever believe, now that's funny

    October 12, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  17. linda from South Dakota

    does anyone think that being negative as mccain/palin ahve been this whole capmaign,, instead of explaining and focusing of the issues,, is goin to get them the votes?? i think not,, we dont need a negative thinking president as mccain,,, we need someone like obama whose goin to bring us out of this slump and bring us good change,,, obama/biden,,,08

    October 12, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  18. Larry

    Alexander Mooney got it right and is a fact.Obama is spending money on negative ads about McCains health care agenda.This would be a very important issue with a huge difference between the campaigns. McCain is spending money on negative ads about Obama not supporting the military bill for more money which is the one where Obama wanted a timeline before he signed.The picture is clear as the day.Obama is negative about a very imortant issue and McCain is negative about something that does not matter in the present.As usual McCain is all about nothing current and relies on hate and division from the past.

    October 12, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  19. Will the Real Maverick Please Stand Up?

    Looks like McClown's Erratic Express is going off the rails.

    October 12, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  20. AMERICAN

    There is a fundamental difference between ads that question McCains policy plans and those ads that try to "scare" americans into believing that Obama "pals around with terrorists.

    This shows very poor leadership qualities on behalf of McCain in reining in the rhetoric coming from his surrogates...especially the 'hockey mom" who is clearly drumming up hatred at her rallies.

    These last attempts by these two are so apparently desperate, due to a failing campaign, sinking in the polls with no answers.

    McCain is clueless and his vp pick is a joke.

    Obama and Biden will be in the White House and the Repugs are angry....get over it.

    October 12, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  21. Joe the Troll

    "Obama is directing his heaviest dollars to television spots that attack McCain's health care plan, while the majority of McCain's money is behind ads that portray Obama as an out-of-control tax-and-spender and one who voted against funding troops in Iraq and Afghanistan."

    In other words, when Obama goes negative, he STILL talks about issues rather than character. McCain can't do that even when he tries to be positive.

    October 12, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  22. Paul Thompson

    I haven't hear McCain/Palin telling anyone to
    "GET IN THEIR FACE"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That's just bullying in the most negative sense!!!

    October 12, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  23. Lilac in Toronto, Canada

    At times you have to be iron to cut the iron. If Obama did not reply to negatives ads, he will marked as weak President and if replies as Republicans ask for, he will make his point clear, YOU DONT HAVE TO ARROGANT TO BE STRONG. THE GREATEST STRENGTH WE HAVE SEEN IN MOST HUMBLE AND GENTLE PEOPLE, BECAUSE THEY KNOW "THE TREE WITH MOST FRUITS MUST BOW DOWN TO BEAR THE FRUIT, AND TREE WILL NO FRUIT STANDS HIGH". My all time heroes like Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are very powerful till today, but have not lost their humility.

    October 12, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  24. Overseas Obama supporter

    The nation has had 102 major-party tickets covering 51 presidential elections over more than two centuries. And we've never had a ticket in which both candidates on the same ticket were responsible for ethics violations before a national election. McCain/Palin is the first.

    It makes the whole "reform" pitch a little more difficult, doesn't it?

    October 12, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  25. Queen

    Why do some journalists deem responding to negative ads with facts and showing how you differ from in rebuttal ads negative? Obama has taken the high road far too long. ( As he should). I don’t view any of Obama’s ads as negative at all. How long do one allow someone to demean them, insult one's intelligence, or just plain disrespect them. Like I said yesterday, I think I may be done with all this political coverage except the next presidential debate and visiting my candidate’s website to verify the FACTS. That’s all I really need to know. I’m sick of it. I just want to vote. The nasty slurs, allegations, and deception coming from the McCain campaign is too much! I urge people to just turn the channel or station because enough is enough. When these political analyst say negative campaigning works, their right, it works for the American people to identify who they want representing them and who they don’t. God forbid the McCain ticket wins, how the hell does he think he’ll be viewed as a president who is committed to working across party lines? It’s ridiculous! I will indeed be exercising my right to vote and it won’t be for the McCain ticket!

    October 12, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
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