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. Brandon in Indiana

    Non-story. So Obama has a lot more airtime then McCain, and that leads to more overall time with negative ads. This is not a proportion, not a percentage, just the fact that Obama has many more donations that McCain has recieved from public finance and can have more airtime.

    October 12, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  2. Sara

    I suggest that Senator Obama make an ad of John McCain reputing
    the Sara Palin lies at his own rally. First show a clip of Sara "Harry
    Potter" Palin inciting the bigoted crowd. Then switch to McCain stating that there is no reason to fear an Obama Presidency. Show her being found guilty of abuse of power, followed by a clip of her being booed by the crowd at the Philadelphia hockey game. Finally show a large
    question mark over Palin's face stating: WHO IS SARA PALIN?
    DO WE REALLY KNOW HER?

    October 12, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  3. Deb, Allentown, PA

    The ticker about the rage in McCain rallies is closed, so I'll post here.

    The Republicans are correct in that they should be permitted to raise questions about Obama's character. However, the tone of their questioning, their willingness to look the other way, or even chillingly smile as Palin does when someone threatens violence against Obama, is evil and serves only to further harm this once great country.

    Yes, there are racists out there. Is it good to know that? Probably, so that we can fight it. But to allow those people a national stage in the McCain/Palin rallies is just so incredibly wrong. They are hopefully in the minority and I hope that decent, tolerant people send those racists and McCain and Palin a very clear message. We don't need your divisiveness and hatred. We are all ONE people, no matter our color, creed, economic background, etc., and we all have to work together to repair our country.

    Vote Obama/Biden '08

    October 12, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  4. springer

    I SO wish we were voting this Tuesday....it is very ugly out there.

    October 12, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  5. BobbyJohn of Renton WA

    I'm really glad to see Obama is not going all out on the negative campaigns.

    Obama 08

    American for a United America

    October 12, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  6. Tigist from Canada

    As a mother with a disabled child of my own, as a women, as a conservative Christian I thought I have some commonness with Sarah Palin. But the way she talk this day about Obama it makes me wonder that if is she really a Christian women? after all after seeing George Bush's job this past 7 years it will be so difficult for me to trust any politician when they say they love Jesus." Because Jesus said if you love me you will obey me".
    Now I believe Sarah Palin is a resist women not truly a Christian women. What I am hearing from the McCain campaign this days makes me frightened for Osama's and his family life. Some Americans are so resist and stupid. I can't believe at this time of ours people think this ways. America don't bring a curse on your self look at every one as we all are children of God.

    October 12, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  7. Chris-Colorado

    What a gigantic waste. Anyone who makes a voting decision based on these ads doesn't deserve the right to vote.

    October 12, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  8. Dealt

    I clicked on a title that said "Ticker: Crowd asked to pray for Obama defeat" and that lead me here??? I did want to read how far is McCain willing to go with these negative crowd manipulation... it seems they're trying to get God to run in the Republican ticket. Well, I guess it amounts to a footballer's "God was on my side and I won the match".

    October 12, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  9. New Day

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

    That's what's wrong with politics today. Winning an election is more important than how divided the country is afterwards.

    Both parties are guilty of these tactics and i think its completely unamerican

    October 12, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  10. Chris from STL

    Regarding Angry McCain crowd:

    These examples are peanuts compared to what's out there ... go check on 'youtube' for some unbelievable videos on what's happening on with the McCain/Palin campaign rallies. It is scary out there to find people with such extreme beliefs, hatred, ignorance, and stupidity ....

    There is no way you can reach them, because these guys do not read news papers or watch CNN (MSM as these people call) or access to Internet. Their peanut brains are filled with extreme views and further fueled by the campaign and extreme radio and TV talk shows.

    God bless this country .....

    October 12, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  11. NC = Blue in '08

    It seems Barack is only responding to McCain's ads. Barack learned from history and especially in this primary that negative and untruthful ads cannot go unanswered..so what he did was fight fire with fire. That is why we are seeing him with so many negative ads. At least the ads are about real issues, not about personality or McCain cheating on and leaving his former wife and the like.

    We are gonna turn NC Blue for the first time in almost 40 years. YES WE CAN!!!!!

    October 12, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  12. NB

    When you say both campaigns spending the same means one spends on attacking the other on denfending the negative adds . So it is different. I haven't seen any Keating add or any add about McCain's temper or about his VP. Soooooo Cnn should try to be precise.

    October 12, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. w.l. jones

    One candidate early on went to Phildelpha ,Miss. And other one went to South, Carolina To sterry up hate but they for got we the people of the South has lone move on to a better and brighter future for us and our children. It sad in this time and age with the whole world is practally your next door neighbor some people low them self to gutter politic in order to get elected.

    October 12, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  14. Sofa King Ray Todd Ed

    It is sad that so much of the money we donate to both candidates goes to advertising that is so despicable. I really don't think Obama needs to do any negative advertising. McCain, on the other hand, really doesn't have anything good or intelligent to say anyway, so I guess he doesn't have a choice.

    October 12, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  15. McCain/Palin = Shameful, hateful behaviour

    This is a misleading header. Obama's 'negative' ads don't lie. They just point out the failures of the other side and call McCain out on his misstatements and flawed policies. McCain's negative ads actively target Obama with outrageous lies. Look at the CNN fact checks to see. Obama wouldn't need several of his 'negative' ads if he didn't have to discount McCain's BS.

    October 12, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  16. James

    Republican cowards, heres a tip, get an education and maybe you wont be so lost and angry. Take a break from reality tv....fox news...open a book or get some exercise for gods sake. People are sick in the head from all this junk, thats why their so angry, they are in denial to the end that they've been lied to and misled. Either face the music or dont vote, do us a favor. This idiotic anger they are showing, if it gets any worse and i hear anymore about going after Obama, youll have more then a few Northerners ready to march back down there and put you back in your place life before, so wake up or shut up.

    October 12, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  17. Annette

    You call an ad negative even if it is just showing a difference in the issues. That is not what I call a negative ad. That to me is deceptive.

    McCain speaks out of both sides of his mouth. While he says he is toning things down he is still running the negative ads on tv and the web. So even if he is trying to tone it down at his rally people are going home and watching it on tv. What is being toned down.

    No wonder he is losing.

    October 12, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  18. Simon

    They might both be spending the same amount on "negative' ads. But the difference is that the mcCain ads about Obama are lies and distortions while the Obama ads about McCain are pretty much the truth or just honest rebuttals of McCain's lies.

    Once again cnn is doing an excellent job of fudging what is really going on to give the impression that each side is as bad as the other.

    October 12, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  19. Phil Newton in Murphy, Oregon

    Advice to Senator McCain: Don't let your mouth write a check that you can't cash.

    Out of ideas. Out of money. Out of time.

    Go home.

    October 12, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  20. Greg in Mpls

    McCain better take a hit in the polls due to all the hate and anger his camp is encouraging.

    He can say on the stump all he wants that he thinks Obama is a decent person, but his actions have caused this rise in the anger level and his events. And his ads are doing the very same thing.

    This is your creature you've created McCain...you deal with it.

    in the mean time...I'll work to put Obama in the White House.

    October 12, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  21. Nevada

    I was a teenager in the 60's. McCain and especially Palin ARE sowing the seeds of hatred and division. Representative John Lewis is absolutely correct. With our financial crisis, the fear and hate will spread extremely quickly. McCain has opened the doors to something that he will not be able (and I doubt he is really even willing) to contain. Any resulting violence will be on McCain's head and conscience...if he has one (and I doubt that, too). By: White female and ex Republican after this election who will be voting for the respectable Senator Obama this year.

    October 12, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  22. Julie

    Why is it that people make remarks about Barack Obama not wearing the flag pin when I NEVER see John McCain wearing one.

    October 12, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  23. Steve Harris

    McCain is a very deeply troubled man, i have know him for the better part of over a decade and he has some serious emotional baggage. He ill advised us on the Baptist Foundation of Arizona financial mess in the late 90's at our Church North Phoenix Baptist Church, to his lack of ability to tell fact from delusions on his emotional issues. Since the Veterans Admin. has determined him 100% disabled and unfit for continue service that in itself is scary. I wish and and Cindy and the family well. But he would be a disaster to our Nation and it's freedom's.

    He is NOT fit for President nor does he give good or sound financial advise since the BFA scandal we all lost millions at Church.

    October 12, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  24. Frank Canada

    There is a big difference calling an ad negative if it only points out the problems with the other candidates policies. In contrast when you air ads designed to crucify the other candidate and stir up hate and division then this is close to being illegal.

    October 12, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  25. JohnGalt

    I would rather not have to see these negative ads at any point of the campaigns, but there are comparisons between candidates that must be explored for the public's education. I imagine that these confrontational strategies are concocted by the candidates campaign managers, who's goal is to inflame emotions in the public. This is where ignorance wins the game, and it's the uneducated (republican conservative) voter who listens, and believes what they hear.

    October 12, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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