October 12th, 2008
10:08 AM ET
11 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. Peter (CA)

    Nice to see that for once the Democrats won't back down and let the right wing sleaze machine dictate how the election goes.

    October 12, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  2. Susan

    It's a WASTE of money. We want to hear what the candidates can do for our country, not the mud-slinging.

    This negative bashing is getting old & tiresome.

    GROW UP candidates!

    October 12, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  3. JayInNewHampshire

    One thing I have noticed about the McCain campaign is his attack ads are far more personal than Obama's. I agree that Obama has launched just as many ads however to me it seems like they are more policy attacks than personal attacks. Another thing I have noticed with McCain and his campaign is they are purely reactional. In business they teach us to proactive and not reactive and Obama is certainly more proactive than McCain. The word "lurching" while questionable is a pretty good analogy of how McCain is acting. And I personally feel that this is how he would run the country. Reacting instead of being proactive. We don't need four more years of that.

    October 12, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  4. Florida I-4 voter no longer undecided

    John Lewis (D-GA) is NO Civil Rights icon. He is full of hate. I realized today, that if Barack wins, we're going to hear Race Hate, Race, Race Hate for the next four years. All this hate will take the focus off our country's real needs. I'm sick and tired already of "It's Racial". From Rev. Wright, to Michelle Obama's beliefs, from Bill Clinton to John Lewis' hate – I'm turned off. I don't want to hear anymore Racial allegations... I'm sick and tired of it.

    I've decided I'm not voting for Barack because I don't want 4 years of, "It's Racist".

    October 12, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  5. Bulldog

    Why isn't the Palin abuse of power getting more legs? If this were a charge against Senator Obama or Biden the GOP would be attacking them 24/7 over it. Is this because Palin is a woman that she is able to get away with it. It was actually her husband who was the most guilty using his wife's executive position to constantly pressure numerous state officials from the governor's office and recourses. Sarah and Todd did not pressure people to fire their ex-brother-in-law on their own personal time. They pressured people from the governors office on government time with government resources. They pressured subordinates under Sarah Palin who she could fire at any time to fire their ex-brother-in-law. This was a personal vendetta they had. It is absolutely ridiculous that Sarah and Todd Palin are getting away with this.

    October 12, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  6. Dorothy WAller

    Anger on the Republican side is stemming from 1. The DVD "Obsession" was freely sent out to unsuspecting voters. I did not watch it, I took it down to Congressman's office and complained. Second, there have been no separation of church and state in the last two general elections which caused a lot of Christians to stop going to church, these Christians are democrats. These democrats are not only mad about the economy, but also a number of other issues. But the heat has been fired up primarily by that DVD "Obsession" and the lies it has in it.

    October 12, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. Mathew Dickson

    How do we ever expect to quickly resolve the economic issue when the So Called experts and elected government officials cannot agree on almost anything???

    They seem to all let their partisan polotics stand in the way of open minded reasoning to resolve the issue. Who cares who has the right or a great idea if it will benefit everyone at this time of crisis.

    I wish they would all get off their High Horses and come to earth to work together to find the solutions and to Hell with Party Politics or Ingrained, brain washed believed or otherwise differences and become more open minded to each others input.

    They may not all fully agree on things and how to do things (even within same party) but do not put roadblocks on any good ideas due to polotics or party biases, but only based on supported sound reasoning to do so. Stop turning or ignoring things just for political reasons.

    Matt

    October 12, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  8. Corinne

    Sen. McCain constantly emphasizes his record on reform, especially his joint legislation for campaign reform. So, when does the McCain-Feingold legislation take effect? In our lifetimes??? It makes me sick to see how much money is spent on both campaigns. This issue may not be up there with the economy or terrorism, but surely at a time when so many people are losing their jobs, homes &/or retirement savings, such waste is obscene (equal to the arrogance of AIG & their thumbing their nose at the American taxpayer by going to a spa!).

    October 12, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. John in VA

    There is a finite difference in the ads Obama's running and the ads McCain's running. Obama's ads point out the shortcomings of McCain's proposed legislations, while McCain's ads incite hatred, linking Obama to "terrorists" and "racist" ministers. I can guarantee you McCain would stand a chance against Obama if he followed suit – that and punting Palin back to Alaska.

    October 12, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. pat MO

    Compared to Obama, McCain has a much higher percent of ads going for character attacks. The largest percent of Obama's negative ads attack McCain's and the Republican party's policies – not questioning McCain's patrioism or claims of being a Christian.

    October 12, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  11. Hillary then McCain

    I agree Obama didn't do it in person but pay people to do it. Like rage & booed at the McCain's and Hillary’s campaigned.

    October 12, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. Vic

    Early voting is the way to go.

    Registered Republican voted Obama/Biden 08.

    October 12, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  13. Margaret Anderson

    It is apparent to me that Palin has taken bad cop position so McCain can play steady good cop position. What the two did puzzled me over tha last week until I realized what they were doing. How pathetic to rally their base with scary hate tactics. I lived through the 60's, I pray we don't repeat it.

    Margaret,
    Boise, Idaho

    October 12, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  14. Peter of Oregon

    Both negative yes. But CNN you're not mentioning that McCain's attacks are primarily character attacks, Obama's attacks are primarily on policy.

    October 12, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. Anonymous

    McSame is almost entirely negative because he is desperate and has no positive vision to offer American voters.

    We are sick and tired of Bush/Cheney/Rovian politics. Voters will reject the negative message offered by McSame/Failin.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2008

    October 12, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. John Stevens

    Seems there are two types of so-called negative ads – one that are attacking the other on policy and others attacking on character using fear. Both camps have both types – but McCain camp seems to be attacking on character more than the Obama camp.

    I have no problem with policy-based attack ads – but the character ones breed fear and hate.

    October 12, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. Sgt C USMC

    Aftter what happened to Senator McCain in 2000, I still have a hard time believing this is the road he's chosen to go down. I'm pretty sure the McCain of 2000 wouldn't even recognize the McCain of 2008.

    On another note...CNN stop closing the tickers so early. 9 comments spread out over the last 4 topics. If you're going to open the articles up for comments, at least give people the opportunity to write them. Thank You.

    October 12, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. Obama 08: white, female, 60 yr old supporter

    What a joke to put this picture and caption on the blog CNN!!! Not really an objective choice.

    October 12, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. witch

    It would be nice if they would stop all of the negative ads but that won't happen. I think some are really bad. It just needs to stop,because so much of it doesn't matter. I feel that one side is so full of hate, that really needs to stop NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 12, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. ML

    I just watched the HBO movie "Recount". It shows how republicans stole, literally, the 2000 election.

    Through stirring up anger, even hiring actors to portray protesters and hiring people to intimidate election officials, the campaign sending death treats to county officials, hiring lobbiests to convince state officials not to do a recount, and hiring republican recounters to protest every vote, stalling the recount. A lot of other nasty stuff just to get the corporate puppet, Bush into the whitehouse.

    It was the same playbook the McCain campaign is using, only without the racism.

    I am disgusted and am going to vote democratic this year.

    October 12, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. A CANUCK

    McCain is getting caught up in his web of lies and the American voters are finally seeing the truth......John you have just royally scr&wed your legacy...and all because you felt the Presidency was owed to you....just like Hillary !!!!!

    October 12, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  22. California Platinum

    McCain and Palin have actively campaigned hate and divisiveness across the country. I have not heard of any one at an Obama or Biden rally accuse McCain of being an Arab. I have not seen uniformed law enforcement on the podium with mic warming up crowds with inuendo and inference that the McCain or Palin have ties to terrorism and God fearing Americans need to be afraid for their safety if McCain and Palin are elected. I have not heard of people yelling for the murder of another at an Obama or Biden campaign rally.

    The effect of McCain's and Palin's negative campaign, which sets a new low for America, is chilling. And McCain keeps endorsing that message.

    October 12, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  23. Georgia Gal

    They may be spending the same, but all that means is that Obama is buying more expensive airtime (primetime) than McCain. Obviously that doesn't necessarily equate to him having actually more negative airtime than McCain.

    October 12, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. Bs

    Governor Palin's current family crisis (troopergate findings, pregnant daughter, Todd's indiscretions) is sure to have a psycholgical impact on Mrs. Palin and her extreme right wing positions.

    It depends in great if America wants to move forward from the Rove years.

    Hopefully, McCain,72, will retire now.

    October 12, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. Marie

    isn't it ashame the that the media only focuses on McCain's negative ads, and that Obama supporters excuse his negative ads. Hypocrites, the whole bunch! The decry violence on the Republican side, while excusing it on the Obama side, they should be condemning both sides, but their Messiah has spoken. It's kind of scary the depths that people will sink to support Obama, just ask Hillary Clinton what it felt like to be on the receiving end of Obama's ideas about hope and change.

    October 12, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
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