WASHINGTON — More pro-Obama television commercials than pro-Romney spots aired in the first three weeks of October, according to a new analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project — a stark reminder that every dollar is not equal in the raging ad war.
GOP White House challenger Mitt Romney and his allies spent an estimated $87 million on ads between Oct. 1 and 21, nearly $10 million more than President Obama and his supporters. But the Obama forces got more for their money, running 112,730 ads compared to 97,407 aired by Team Romney, according to data from the ad tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG analyzed by the Wesleyan Media Project. The project tracks broadcast television and national cable buys, but not local cable.
“There was a lot of talk that Romney and his allies were hoarding resources for a major ad push in the closing moments of the campaign,” Michael Franz, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, wrote in a report released Wednesday. “This was supposed to counteract the Obama advantage in ads aired throughout the earlier part of the general election campaign. We just haven’t seen that to date on local broadcast. And time is running out.”
The differential is due to the fact that Obama has been running most of the ads on his behalf, taking advantage of the lower rate provided to candidates, while a large share of the pro-Romney ads are sponsored by super PACs and other outside groups, which have to pay the market rate, noted Travis Ridout, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.
Obama enjoyed an ad advantage in 13 of the top 15 media markets during the first three weeks of October, with huge margins in Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando, Washington and Reno.
Columbus and Norfolk were the only top markets that saw more pro-Romney ads, but even then the difference was slight.
Swing state voters have good reason to feel inundated by the TV ads this year — more than 915,000 presidential ads have aired on broadcast and national cable since the general election campaign kicked off in April, the project found.
That’s an increase of 44.5% over the same period in 2008.
“When all is said and done, 2012 will go down as a record pulverizing year for political advertising,” co-director Erika Franklin Fowler wrote. “We’ve already surpassed the total number of presidential ads aired during the entire 2008 campaign — and we still have two weeks to go before Election Day.”