A recent study released by the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project shows that in the run up to the election, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has spent nearly three times as much as Republican John McCain on television advertising.
The Obama campaign has also spent $100 million in ads in the month of October — the most ever spent by a campaign in one month.
“In past elections, spending has been relatively equal between the major party candidates,” said Sarah Niebler, deputy director of the Wisconsin Advertising Project. “This election is different in that one candidate is spending so much more than the other on advertising.”
From Oct. 21 to 28, the McCain camp has spent $7.5 million compared to the $21.5 million spent by the Obama campaign. Also during this period, the Republican National Committee spent $6.7 million on television ads and special interest groups spent $2.2 million.
“The biggest thing that advertising has given to our campaign is the opportunity to show the plans of Barack Obama to the people,” said Matt Lehrich, spokesperson for the Obama campaign in Wisconsin.
Both candidates’ ads have been heavily focused on the economy. Apart from that, the most prevalent issues in ads for Obama are health care, education, medicine and Iraq, while ads for McCain have emphasized government spending, housing, energy and the military.
Despite the disparity in advertising funds, the McCain camp remains optimistic about the election overall.
“Although we’ve been outspent in resources, I think that our campaign has been very effective as a whole,” said Kirsten Kukowski, communications director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
The study also shows that more than 70 percent of the money spent by the Obama campaign has gone toward ads in states won by President George W. Bush in the last election. This differs from the advertising approach of the McCain camp, which has spent most of its ad money in states that are considered Republican strongholds.
“The fact of the matter is that the McCain campaign is working with limited resources, so they really have to concentrate on states were they can see the biggest results,” Niebler said.
Spending between the candidates in battleground states like Wisconsin also differs greatly. Within the month of October, the Obama campaign spent more than $1 million in Wisconsin compared to the $200,000 spent by McCain. In many states, the RNC has assisted by buying large numbers of ads in these states, though this is not the case in Wisconsin.
Although advertising spending by the McCain campaign in Wisconsin is smaller than spending in other battleground states, those involved say this in no way indicates surrender.
“I think that despite being outspent on advertising, we have been able to make up for it in other ways,” Kukowski said. “Our campaign has a very solid ground game.”