A lot of what you know about McCain and Obama comes from ads….and most of those are funded by Mr. Obama because he refused to keep a promise to accept only public funding as set down in the McCain-Feingold law….
By Jim Rutenberg
The New York Times
PHILADELPHIA — Senator Barack Obama is days away from breaking the advertising spending record set by President Bush in the general election four years ago, having unleashed an advertising campaign of a scale and complexity unrivaled in the television era.
With advertisements running repeatedly day and night, on local stations and on the major broadcast networks, on niche cable networks and even on video games and his own dedicated satellite channels, Mr. Obama is now outadvertising Senator John McCain nationwide by a ratio of at least four to one, according to CMAG, a service that monitors political advertising. That difference is even larger in several closely contested states.
The huge gap has been made possible by Mr. Obama’s decision to opt out of the federal campaign finance system, which gives presidential nominees $84 million in public money and prohibits them from spending any amount above that from their party convention to Election Day. Mr. McCain is participating in the system. Mr. Obama, who at one point promised to participate in it as well, is expected to announce in the next few days that he raised more than $100 million in September, a figure that would shatter fund-raising records.
“This is uncharted territory,” said Kenneth M. Goldstein, the director of the Advertising Project at the University of Wisconsin. “We’ve certainly seen heavy advertising battles before. But we’ve never seen in a presidential race one side having such a lopsided advantage.”
While Mr. Obama has held a spending advantage throughout the general election campaign, his television dominance has become most apparent in the last few weeks. He has gone on a buying binge of television time that has allowed him to swamp Mr. McCain’s campaign with concurrent lines of positive and negative messages. Mr. Obama’s advertisements come as Republicans have begun a blitz of automated telephone calls attacking him.
The Obama campaign’s advertising approach — which has included advertisements up to two minutes long in which Mr. Obama lays out his agenda and even advertisements in video games like “Guitar Hero” — has helped mask some of Mr. Obama’s rougher attacks on his rival.
Above: Senator Barack Obama on Friday in Roanoke, Va. Analysts say his campaign is on pace to surpass next week the record of $188 million in advertising spending in a general election. Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times
“What Obama is doing is being his own good cop and bad cop,” said Evan Tracey, the chief operating officer of CMAG, who called the advertising war “a blowout” in Mr. Obama’s favor.
Based on his current spending, CMAG predicts Mr. Obama’s general election advertising campaign will surpass the $188 million Mr. Bush spent in his 2004 campaign by early next week. Mr. McCain has spent $91 million on advertising since he clinched his party’s nomination, several months before Mr. Obama clinched his.
The size of the disparity has even surprised aides to Mr. McCain, who traded accusations with Mr. Obama over the advertising battle in this week’s debate, with Mr. Obama telling Mr. McCain that “your ads, 100 percent of them have been negative” and Mr. McCain saying that “Senator Obama has spent more money on negative ads than any political campaign in history.”