Did Obama Buy the Presidency?
Barack Obama outspent John McCain by an enormous amount.
President-elect Barack Obama placed 155% more spot TV ads than John McCain during the general election season (6/08 to 11/08), and almost twice as many ads dating back to the beginning of January when the primaries were just heating up.
The local numbers show a much bigger discrepancy than those for national cable and network buys. Sen. McCain kept pace w/ President-elect Obama in those categories, with Obama edging out his rival by just 136 ad buys in the cable and network combined, dating back to January.
I’m not sure what to make of this. Stephen Green casts this as “buying the White House.” But the reason he spent so much was because he raised so much. He thus capitalized on his initial popularity advantage and managed to increase it. Nor was this a case of a rich candidate jumping into a local race and blowing the doors off his unfunded opponent. McCain made the conscious — and stupid — decision to rely on public financing rather than compete on the fundraising front.
Nor is it even clear how much Obama’s spending advantage helped. He started the race with a significant poll advantage over McCain, lost it narrowly and briefly a few times, and wound up with essentially the same margin as he started with.
If anything, McCain can take some (admittedly, exceedingly) small comfort from the fact that he got more bang for his advertising buck than Obama, losing by a mere 7 points despite having been outspent by a fantastic margin.