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. Bat 242

    What do you know...CNN didn't close this comment page after only 1 or 2 submissions, what's up with that?

    And Obama's surrogates like Rep. Lewis calling McCain a white racist just like Wallace is not negative and hate mongering? I guess not among the anti-american leftists here. The only ones bringing up race in this campaign has been Obama and his people.

    Only 34% of Obama's adds are negative? Whose doing the fuzzy math here..Barney Frank? Chris Dodd or Chucky Shumer? Remember that these are the folks who gave us the freddy mac and fannie mae mess and if you believe that's not so and that it was the republicans behind it, than why are the democrats not holding special committee hearings to root out who was the culprit? Because it was the dems who started this ball rolling.

    October 12, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  2. rumpusgoopus

    CNN and all others news orgs, for the love of Steve, could you please recognize that there is a huge difference between "negative" and "dirty"?

    October 12, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  3. James

    People really have to stop acting like this is some sort of football game, guess my other post was a little too "hate filled" for a democrat so i doubt itll be posted but honestly, this is pathetic, you would think people would vote for the future of their kids but its almost gotten down to a pathetic contest on who can mislead the others crew the most, and its no secret that the McCain campaign is built around that idea. You cant deny that Obama has tried to stick with the important subjects but hes constantly having to turn around and attack back in the same fashion that hes attacked, i dont agree he should stoop that low but ya gotta do what ya gotta do when its come down to a football game like atmosphere. Tough thing is so many have been wrong, and so many were Republican, and so many cant admit when they are wrong and i think that BS pride is whats really fueling the anger, the fact that people were wrong, and here we are, but theyd rather keep walking us off a cliff then admit it. Pathetic.

    October 12, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  4. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    There is just too much negative stuff coming out of the mouths of the republicans. They are playing to the less educated people, the ones who have missed or never had the opportunities some others had.

    This is not protecting the vulnerable – it's abusing the vulnerable. I have lost all respect for McCain, and I'll never forget it.

    October 12, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  5. No McCain/Palin, CA

    McCain is going on the attack, that is all he has left & that is what he is going to continue doing. McCain started the negative & down right hateful campaigning & ads, Obama had to strike back. McCain/Palin however, have crossed the line. They need to do more to calm their crowds down. McCain has started doing some, but not nearly enough & it should have been done the very first time it happened. Instead they just more or less condoned it & stood by & watched the "mob style" reaction. John Lewis is right & I am glad he spoke out, i hope John McCain takes his advice. McCain/Palin has run a hateful, racist campaign, I am sick of them. No McCain/Palin, No Way, No How.

    October 12, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  6. wiser

    Here we go again! Senator Obama and his campaign are injecting the race card again, this time against Senator McCain and Governor Palin just like they did during the primary. Then, they framed President Clinton and Senator Clinton as racist.

    Also, Senator Obama’s campaign insults voters by implying if they vote against Senator Obama they are racist.

    Guess what, I will vote against Senator Obama because he has little experience and displays a lack of ideas and judgment.

    This Democrat will vote for McCain!

    October 12, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. Profiler

    Praying for his defeat ? LOL I prayed once as a kid because my parents forced me to but when I grew up I realized that I was talking to myself.

    October 12, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  8. EDWARD

    Why is it not a big story that Sarah Palin abused her power as governor of Alaska? She is running as vice president of USA . If MaCain dies she will become the president. Is this the person you want to be preident of the USA? There is something wrong with this
    thinking and I blame the media for not talking about this story. this should be the talk of the World. This person has abuse her power as governor why would she not abuse her power even as vice president.
    the people we trust should have morals and to take the job of another person based on his not want to be inmoral is a very dishonest,. Just remember she could become president. God forbid anthing happen to McCain and you guys don't think this is a big story. The American people are not fools. People break the law and it is ok like abuse of power . This is outrageous the law dosen't mean anything to you guys in the media. No morals or respect for the USA.

    October 12, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  9. James From Chicago

    YOU ARE RIGHT, BUT OBAMA DOES NOT DO PERSONAL ATTACKS, MCCAIN AND PALIN ARE SPREADING LIES AND FEARS.

    October 12, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  10. DOLLORBIL

    WHEN SOMEONE STARTS THROWING ROCKS AT YOU AND YOU HAVE NOWHERE TO GET OUT OF THE WAY. THE ONLY THING YOU CAN DO IS PICK UP THE SAME ROCKS AND THROW THEM BACK AT THE PERSON WHO THREW THEM AT YOU. THIS IS A ROUGH ANALOGY BUT IT IS BASICALLY WHAT IS HAPPENING. oBAMA HAS BEEN TRYING TO GET HIS PLANS FOR AMERICA ACCROSS TO AMERICANS BUT WITH THE FACT CHECKED LIES BEING THROWN AT HIM THE ONLY WAY TO COUNTER IS TO THEM BACK. IT IS A SHAME BUT WHAT CAN YOU DO? A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE TURNED OFF BY THIS ME FOR ONE. I WAS LEANING TOWAARD MC CAIN UNTIL PALIN STARTED HER SUBLIMINAL RACIAL SLURS AT OBAMA AND MY MIND CHANGED IN A HURRY. GO OBAMA

    October 12, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  11. Dave, Illinois

    Hey, CNN censor, how about letting in a pro-McCain comment once in a while. My very tame comment was just deleted off of this blog. I simply stated that the Obamites are far more hateful than any McCain supporter that I have heard. How about trying to be a little unbiased and let every side have a say.

    October 12, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  12. John Graham

    IM SO SICK AN F-N TIRED OF THE RACESICM IN THIS CONTRY , I CAN'T WAIT TILL THIRTY 30 OR 40 YEARS FROM NOW WHEN THE CONTRY IS MORE THAN 90% DARK SKINED ,AN ALL THE OLD PEOPLE FROM THE 1900s DIE !!!AN THEN WE CAN LIVE AS A PEOPLE AN NOT RACES !!!! ,AN YES I IM A PROUD BLACK MAN . SIGNED : ITS TIME TO MOVE ON

    October 12, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  13. McCain is Shameless

    You are neglecting to mention what the RNC is spending as well on negative ads–combined, the McCain Campaign and RNC has significantly more money than Obama and the DNC combined.

    October 12, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  14. 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.

    OBAMA/BIDEN '08/12!

    October 12, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. PRESSED

    please stop being such GIRLY BOYS and OVERLY SENSITIVE women.
    There is nothing new about this type of campaigning; 200 years plus

    October 12, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  16. Suzanne

    Hey Sarah & John, to know the REAL Obama, please read Frank Shaeffer's article that states that Obama will be one of the Greatest and Most LOVED Presidents in History.

    October 12, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  17. supporter

    No one said thaqt the Govenor did not have the power to fire someoen. The issue wasz ethics SHE ABUSED THE POER OF HER OFFICE and EVEN WORSWE LET HER HUSBAND ABUSE THE POWER. IS that what we want in WASHINGTON? Do we want to have 4 more years of the VP abusing the powers of the office?

    SHE IS DANGEROUS!

    October 12, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  18. Kia in FL

    It is tii bad that Republicans have nothin good to say or finding solutions for today problem. All they could do is to play the fear games for 8 years and now continue with McSame.

    October 12, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  19. Mook from Canada

    The way I see it, the republicans are using fear tactics ,which is very dangerous, are they willing to take responsibility if some redneck that Palin entices,attempts to gravely harm Obama???? My guess is no,I would expect for her to claim innocence like she's been doing about other things ,which she knows she is responsible for.
    To put it in context Charles Manson is still in prison for acts he enticed!

    October 12, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  20. cathy

    You can be sure that Sen. Obama's life has been examined, investigated, and scrutinized more than anyone who runs for President. ENOUGH!!! Gov. Palin comes out of an investigation with a "bad" grade on her report, and she is still given an "A". Gov. Palin's attacks and negative comments regarding Sen. Obama is creating an atmosphere of hatred and racial divide. Her radical behavior may cause some adverse problems. We do not need another Civil Rights Movement. I think Sen. McCain did well trying to calm it down. They'd better listen to Rep. Lewis. He's been there and have the scars to prove it. Negative ads should be suspended from both parties. I am sick of them and it's a waste of money. Let me know in detail, what you can do for to eliminate some of the problems we are facing today. I know that eight years of bad political decisions cannot be resolved right away, but I want to know Sen Obama and Sen. McCain's intentions. What I don't want to hear from Sen. McCain is, "I can do this". He's been there for 26 years. Why wasn't it been done? He can find Ben Laden...Why not tell the military forces trying to find Ben Laden? COUNTRY FIRST????????????????????

    October 12, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  21. NickNas

    WOW One day you say McCain is 100% Negative ( The rest of the media agrees) Then you try and backhand Obama and make it look like he is doing the same thing as McCain is???

    Whats wrong CNN? The Polls going against McCain scareing you??

    How dare you say Obama is just as bad as McCain. No Wonder your channel is goin gdown in flames.

    October 12, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  22. Cynthia; Bham

    That is a Karl Rove, Republican, tactic to put things out there to scare people into voting for the Republican candidate. The American people are truly frustrated about what is going on with the economy and how it affects their lives. Senator McCain offered his buy back solution and if I understand it correctly it will put an extra burden on taxpayers. I am blessed to be able to cover everything right now but if something like that were to come along with the already increased gas prices (thank goodness they are dropping some), increased food pricing, and everything else that increases when your paycheck doesn't. The American people want to hear what these candidates have to offer – not attacks. It seems as if for some time now tht all Senator McCain has done is attack – I guess he has no platform to offer as a solution. Senator Obama has no other choice but to attack back – he has no plan to let them swiftboat him like they did Kerry and I don't blame him for that.

    October 12, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  23. Thomas

    Why do the candidates invest time and money into negative ads?

    Because they work.

    The "low information voter", which I fear makes up a majority in this country, is affected by these negative ads.

    They work. It is sad but true.

    October 12, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  24. Gretchen from PA

    I for one am glad Obama is not just 'taking' this – if you really look at the dialogue and timing, Obama did not enter this negative ring until McCain/Palin started slinging arrows that had absolutely nothing to do with the presidential race – it was and is so personal its disgusting.

    Interesting, McCain has lost all of his integrity and Palin is just egging him on and he allows it to continue – guess that shows McCain's 'real' judgement.....

    October 12, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  25. Michigan Voter

    I'd like to see them address the fact that world economies are collapsing, including ours, and what their plans are for when the global depression arrives and the US dollar becomes worthless.

    That's more important than all this mudslinging stuff.

    October 12, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
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