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

Both campaigns spending about the same on negative ads

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/08/art.mccainadprez.cnn.jpg caption="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. Obama 08: white, female, 60 yr old supporter

    Poor choice of graphic CNN...not what you would call objective!!!

    There is a difference between initiating a negative attack and responding to it as so many Obama supporters have already noted.

    Even Republicans are agreeing that McCain's campaign is erratic and lurching as they huddle THREE weeks before an election to put forward an economic plan. I will be interested to see how many of Obama's policies will be in this plan as was the case in the changes Obama wanted made to the bailout/rescue package.

    Go with the real deal not the campaign that lies, smwears and plagerizes!!!!

    October 12, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. Hillary then McCain

    I hope we Americans don't vote for the cheater or we'll be cheating for the next 4 years. We don't want a thief to be our president do we????

    October 12, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  3. Ari

    I suppose it was presidential for McBush to call Obama "that one".

    October 12, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. Karen

    Barack Obama is much more Presidential than that blowhard McCain and his trained show dog.

    GO OBAMA/BIDEN '08 and '12!

    October 12, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. Eascogal

    McCain and Palin are running an "arrogant" and "ignorant" campaign preying on the innocent and confused people hurting from this economic downturn. Their leadership CLEARLY demonstrates WHAT a MCCAIN PALIN ADMINISTRATION will comprise of in Washington. Lets be clear....that if this attitude is the last resort in desperate moments and "crisis" then the American people can expect a dirty, low-down indespicable LEADERS as president and vice-president of AMERICA! But the good always prevails...OBAMA only needs to STAY FOCUS on the MESSAGE!

    October 12, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. Deborah

    Obama DID NOT hit first, McCain did. Obama is only defending his character. His adds are an answer to McCain's attacks. Obama/Biden are NOT negative, McCain/Palin are.

    October 12, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  7. Informed Voter

    Attack Someone's Lies, Polices & hypocrisy is Negative Campaigning??? ... come one .. CNN .....

    All Mc Cain has is personal attacks ... & Smears

    October 12, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. Peter (CA)


    You're right. Believing in bullcrap does not make it true. Neither is believing in lies and ignorance.

    October 12, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  9. Rob indetroit

    MCnasty is sleeze the same form of filth used against him in 2000,by bush&rove he is now using against Obama in 2008.

    October 12, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. cmc

    McCAIN state that he wanted to run a clean campaign... What happened????????the polls started to tank, then out comes the crap.....I don't know if this a mental problem, but he is so desperate that he will try anything. Has anyone noticed that when a republican is asked a question that they can't answer or the answer would not be =constructive for them, they start on Obama, I heard it this morning with Rick Davis. Mr Davis was asked about the money he got,until recently, guess what, NO answer, then he was on Obama. Listen to them, anytime they get their butts in a sling, they start on Obama.

    October 12, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. tennisguypitt

    It's a good thing I don't fall for mudslinging.

    I agree with most of the people here, Obama seems to be attacking McCain's policies, whereas McCain is attacking Obama's character. BIG DIFFERENCE. I know this is probably a cliche, but the McCain of 2000 could have gotten my vote, (though I was 10 at the time.) This guy scares me. He is using the same tactics that derailed him in 2000 against Obama! Isn't that a little ironic?

    Unfortunately, many people believe everything, even though a simple google search can prove the ads wrong.

    October 12, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. USA

    What a waste of money. Oh, how we need reform. Candidates should not be able to buy their way to the presidency. Obama $21.5 million spent on ads vs. $9.2 million for McCain. At a time when the average American is hurting financially, these parties throw away enormous sums of money, sums that exceed all campaigns of previous years. What a disgrace!

    I suggest each campaign receive the same dollar amount. It would force the candidates to be creative and would not give one an unfair advantage over the other. Plus, it would help the American people keep their money in their own pockets. Too many people have squandered their money with their bets!

    October 12, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. Jay

    "Not Presidential" what does't mean really? Not white????????

    October 12, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. tigerakabj

    Wrong. Obama's ads attack McCain's policies, not him personally.

    If Obama had an ad that said that McCain is an old, angry fart, and at 72 years old, he needs to go retire, sit down, and shut up, then I would consider that negative ad.

    Get it together CNN.

    Obama/Biden 2008/2012.

    October 12, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  15. Old White Guy

    With the McCain campaign engaging in the worst inflammatory campaign since Nazi Germany. the Obama campaign has to react.

    The republican campaign has completely given up on issues and is now engaged in lies and distortions at best.

    October 12, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  16. Waitaseccond

    That is odd. "Not presidential"

    Didn't they just say a few months ago that Obama was acting TOO presidential and needed to know his "place"?

    Strange how they can have their cake and eat it too, but cry foul when the Democrats have any contradiction in the slightest.

    I believe the definition for that would be: hypocrite.

    October 12, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  17. DJ

    CNN you are a joke. You post nothing but pro Obama rhetoric. Has Obama contributed to you too. I guess you will all be happy when he puts his socialist agenda into place.

    October 12, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. max

    call a spade what it is. that woman palin leaves a sick feeling in my guts from what she says just to win an election. Has she stopped to think what could be the consequences of anything happening to obama as a result of the hatred she is sowing among her supporters.? It will be disastrous for everybody,simply by looking at her supporters and telling them blatant lies about Obama is enough reason for any right thinking AMERICAN to reject her .Obama should continue his honourable campaign and don,t let a drowning man and woman drag him down. i am watching from outside the USA, GOD BLESS AMERICA WITH A GOOD LEADER.

    October 12, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  19. Scott L

    For every negative that McCain puts out, Obama or some surrogate plays the race card.

    Touche liberals, it is politics as usual. Your poo stinks too...don't ever forget that.

    October 12, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. redhead from toronto

    America is knows world wide as a melting pot "Bring me your tired, weary ..". that's what makes it the Great USA. I wish McCain had told that woman in the red shirt "Sen. Obama is an AMERICAN just like you.. instead he has insulted American Arab men, are they NOT good family men ? He just doesn't GET IT.

    October 12, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  21. Renee

    Vote No to Mccain/Palin. Sarah Palin lied about Obama Paling around with Terroist and Sarah Palin was found Guilty of Abused of Power.The question here is who is the really Sarah Palin? We have to not reward bad behavior Sarah Palin will take that bad behavior to the white house if elected, We must work hard to elect Obama/Biden to the White House we the people are tired of lies and corruptions that is what people will get if another Republican is elected to the White House in the likes of Mccain/Palin

    October 12, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. liz

    McCain has nothing constructive to say, his smile is creepy and his runningmate is an idiot. He has no choice but to make up scary stories about Obama. All we can hope is people will read the facts and vote for CHANGE!

    October 12, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  23. Opinion

    it is sad, not right when politics turn nasty. Each of them has good and not that good qualities, but this doe not mean that they will be so negative to each other – ideally. But what is ideal on this world? How people make- up their mind?
    whom to pick, whom to trust?
    A lot of people are so confused.

    October 12, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. as of today

    it is sad, not right when politics turn nasty. Each of them has good and not that good qualities, but this doe not mean that they will be so negative to each other – ideally. But what is ideal on this world? How people make- up their mind?
    whom to pick, whom to trust?
    A lot of people are so confused.

    I guess we need a third party which would gather the best from the two, and eliminate the worst of the two.

    October 12, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  25. Uncle Sam

    John McCain has a record of reform.
    Why would anyone believe Sen. Obama's promises of change when he has never demonstrated it during his career?

    Americans for McCain '08

    October 12, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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