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. David

    Okay, let's ask this question: Which candidate is spending more on positive ads designed to give the public an understanding of that candidates vision for the country?

    October 12, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  2. CA Senior, San Jose

    Would it not be wonderful to go back to the spirit of the Lincoln Debates where personal attacks were avoided. McCain and Palin have put Obama in the position to respond to their dirty lies and innuendoes. The way he does it continues to show him as the more astute leader.

    October 12, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  3. Republican Woman For Obama

    Susan, you grow up! Obama has consistently outlined his proposals...instead of complaining about not hearing enough, why don't you just go to his website and click on ISSUES! Obviously you must not be paying attention but you have enough time to post your comment on here so maybe take a little extra time to go to his site.

    Also, McCain's ads are filled with lies and personal attacks! The only reason Obama isn't 20 points ahead is because people are too lazy to look up information!

    October 12, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. Doug Bostick

    Hey your right McCain is always negative, but look at what he's got to work with, obama,biden,f.raines,t.howard,j,johnson,j.wright,a.sharpton,j.jackson,t.rezko acorn, mrs.obama, come on he'd have to be telling lies if he wasn't telling the truth about barack oh boy and his pals. wake up people, believeing in bullcrap doesn't make it true.

    October 12, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  5. Gene

    Is there any way to vote for McCain without voting for Palin?

    October 12, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. Lilly

    In other words, the McCain's campaign is barely keeping up with
    the Obama's campaign in terms of ads, negative or otherwise.

    October 12, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. Charles, Miami

    Mccain's ads are more offensive. Obama is sticking more to the subject.

    October 12, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. One white republican who is fed up with the negativity of the McSame/Failin campaign and who has thrown his support to OBAMA/BIDEN

    It is telling that McSame told one of his supporters at a rally last week that Obama is NOT dangerous, while his attack ads allege that he is.

    McSame's campaign offers exactly what his presidency would deliver. Erratic, confused, disorganized, shoot-from-the-hip behavior is not what we need in the Oval Office.

    October 12, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. David

    This article is misleading. Through it's headline and focus, it implies that Obama and McCain have the same focus with their advertising, but gives little importance to the fact that 2/3 (66%)of Obama's budget is going to positive advertising as compared to 100% of McCain's budget going to negative advertising. The headline should read: McCain 100% negative, Obama only 34% on negative advertising.

    October 12, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  10. supporter

    Make sure that you see the small difference in the messages of the adds. Obama states facts and shows how he is differnet from McCain. McCain tries to attack the person. When people want answers they do not like to see McCain attack the person they want to know how he has a better plkan.l McCain clearly has no plan, because if he did he woulod tell us what it is.


    October 12, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  11. Don

    Amazing fact if you consider that Obama supporters continue to swear that Obama does not go negative..there is nothing negative about asking Barack Obama about his past connections..We would do this with any candidate..Obama just refuses to answer and the MSM is afraid to ask.

    October 12, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  12. EDWARD

    Years ago the whole world was watching the USA due to this country having slaves. The USA amolish this law because the World was saying you talk about how moral you are and you have slaves. The whole world is watching again. Is abuse of power againt the law are what? IThis is the question. Are we following the rules are we breaking the rules? We are going through this now. We are breaking the rules now. That is why the banks are falling. Just do what you want to do. There is noting wrong with taking a man's money and nothing is being done about it. If you don't think the world is watching us you must be crazy. Abuse of power this is where it started. !!!!!!!!

    October 12, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  13. John in Gig Harbor

    Mcain has only nastiness and negativity in his campaign. This is not the man we need for president. We need an intelligent person with a cool temper, and one who tells the truth to the American people.

    Let's elect a leader who will lead us in a new direction.
    McCain is a follower, not a leader. He will follow George Bush in his policies and America will be forever lost to ignorant arrogant elitist extremists like McCain and Bush and a vote will never matter. We are losing our basic American rights in the current administration, and it would be a sad day if we lost our right to vote and have an effect on government, but that's the direction McCain wants to go. The Republican party is only a disguise for the corporations that have hijacked and are currently running our government. Don't be stupid about this. Don't vote for John McCain.

    OBAMA/BIDEN '08!

    October 12, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  14. sabuc for Obama

    The difference is Obama's "negative" ads are for McCains lies and failed policies not personal or negative innuendos.

    October 12, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. Ken

    I think McCain needs to tone it down he looks crazy when you see his eyes bulging he scared my grandchildren as we sat down to watch the debate I wonder if he should be allowed to have adopted children he may be to erratic to give them a quiet safe home he is very scarry and I worry if he keeps this up the cities may burn and hurt young innocent people I find it hard to believe anyone could want the White House that bad? I thought he put honor first but I guess that was a lie too like the rest of him and Palin they tell lie after lie well she is just empty headed but I used to respect John but not any more I see a lot of anger in that man he should seek counseling or stay away from the white supremisist groups he acts like a skin head?

    October 12, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  16. Doug Bostick

    Lets see jay from New Hampshire: proactive for Clinton and Bush years would have been attempting to talk and keep the Terrorist from killing millions, it would have been getting NATO to issue 10's of sanctions against Hussian over 10 years that did not work, to try and get peace in and around Isreal that didn't work, on and on, how many years of being proactive, sitting and talking while our enemy gets stronger do you want. Being buddies with the people that want to eliminate the USA really hasn't worked for 100 years or so. What is the President of Iran going to say at the table when barack says what can we do to get you to like us? answer: kill all Americans and Jews. that should work well, ya think?

    October 12, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. Simmy

    Let me define negative for you: A negative ad is one where McCain attacks the character of Sen. Obama with ads that misrepresent the truth is not politics; it's personal. An ad where Sen. Obama attacks the accomplishments or non-accomplishments of McCain is not negative-it's called a political campaign. Please get the facts right, and stop misrepresenting Sen. Obama. Thank you.

    October 12, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  18. Peter Johnson-Johnson

    Sometimes I swear I can see the 2000 McCain struggling with the 2008 McCain for possession of his soul. It's a shame; I used to like and respect him, and if he stood now for the things he stood for back then, I'd probably vote for him.

    October 12, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  19. Ryan

    Until Obama spends his 22 million on his 30 minute adds. I'm glad that when he feels everyone is doing so poorly, he can go and waste $ like that. Shouldn't he be trying to redistribute the money in line with his socialist political plans?

    October 12, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  20. Dan

    In 2000, McCain said any candidate running almost 100% negative ads has nothing to offer America.

    Now, McCain is that candidate running nearly 100% negative ads that even his supporter and financer of factcheck.org have called lies from McCain.

    October 12, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  21. Kim

    Define negative. The Obama Ad's do not inspire Neo Nazi Race Hatred.

    October 12, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  22. FL 4 Obama

    100% of McCain's desperate campaign has been negative.

    The majority (66%) of Obama's campaign has been positive. You decide.

    Obama/Biden '08
    Hands Down.

    October 12, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  23. Cindy Nelson

    Obama needs to run more negative adds about John McCain and Keating 5. He also needs to hit Palin on her ethics voilations.
    This needs to be front and center right now.

    With that said, I am just amazed that any of this matters with the economy in the turmoil it is in. But– what McCain and Palin have been doing seems to be resonating. So we need to hit them right back. Poltics as usual I guess.

    October 12, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  24. I Just Said Thanks, but No Thanks to Another 4 Years of g.o.p. corruption, arrogance and incompetence

    McCain spends 100 per cent of his money on negative ads.
    Obama spends one-third of his money on negative ads.

    CNN- you guys should research: "How to Lie with Statistics".


    October 12, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  25. The Cosmos & MCCAIN Rocks!!

    ┬╗HURRAH for the GREAT man John McCain,our next President. Of course.

    October 12, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
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