Barack Obama is way ahead of John McCain with it comes to advertising in the final stages of the 2008 campaign, spending almost triple the amount on television; and even when Republican National Committee advertising is factored in, Obama still has a healthy margin of air superiority. According to a study in Washington Post blog The Fix (using Data Source numbers), Obama spent 20M in 17 states during the week of 9/30/08-10-06-08. McCain only bought $7.2M worth of airtime in 15 states, and received $5.3M in support from the RNC in six states.
The hottest action was in Ohio and Pennsylvania, with $5.7 and $5.1M in total spending between the two. In both cases, Obama spent more, leading Ohio $2.9M to $2.8M and Pennsylvania $3.1M to $2M. Michigan was also a big state, but may have been costly to the McCain forces. Obama spent $2.2M there to McCain’s $1.7M, but the McCain eventually announced it was abandoning its efforts there. Three states featured big Democratic advantages in spending: Florida, where Obama led $2.9M to $623K, Virginia ($1.6M to $909K) and North Carolina ($1.5M to $137K). McCain held an edge in only two states, Minnesota ($377K to $196K) and Iowa ($298K to $224K).
Meanwhile, TNS Media Intelligence still expects the record 2004 political spending total of $1.7B will be eclipsed this year, but it is suggesting that its early estimate of a $3B political pool may have been a bit too high. It now believes the final tally may come in closer to $2.5B.
RBR/TVBR observation: From what we’ve been hearing, political has been spotty – perhaps producing windfalls in some locations, but decidedly not doing so in others. Also, in years past, competition for prime availabilities on television often forced some of the advertising dollars to gravitate to other media – this year, however, demand for television time in general is low enough that the spillover effect appears to be muted.