Presidential Campaign Ad Spending Tops $700 Million

With 38 days to go until Election Day, spending on political ads in the Presidential campaign has passed the $700 million mark:

Local television stations are reaping an unprecedented harvest of more than $700 million in advertising spending around the presidential contest as the two campaigns and their outside allies continue accelerating spending rates.

President Obama, Mitt Romney, and outside groups spent more than $55 million on advertising running between Sept. 25 and Oct. 1, according to sources watching the advertising market. Obama’s campaign alone spent $21 million during the last week, while Romney’s campaign dropped $14 million on its own advertising.

All told, Obama’s team has spent a total of $285 million on broadcast, cable, and radio advertising, while Romney’s camp has spent $117 million. Add in outside spending and the total spent on the general election tops $724.6 million to date.


Ohio, Florida, and Virginia continue to be top targets for candidate advertising. The two sides are spending a combined $11.4 million reaching Buckeye State voters; $12.6 million in the Sunshine State; and $10.5 million in the Commonwealth this week alone. All three states have seen more than $114 million spent on advertising already.

Romney and Obama are each spending in nine states – Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. And Obama has the upper hand in seven of those states; Romney is only outspending the president in North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Take note that it was only 43 days ago that it was reported that spending had passed the $500 million mark.

With just over a month left to go, we can expect this pace to continue, and I would not be surprised to see the final total to pass $800 or even $900 million dollars after it’s all over. The interesting part will be to correlate the ad spending to the results of the election and see who actually spent their money in the wisest manner.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I read the last graf of the quoted article.

    That both sides are spending huge dollars in FL, OH and VA is axiomatic. It goes without saying and the reasons are as obvious as sunshine is bright. Well, unless one believes in unicorns, WaPo and CBS/NYT.

    NV and WI make sense. The former because of demographics and prior voting history; the latter because of recent voting history and Paul Ryan’s presence on the ticket.

    NC makes abundant sense. Because of demographics and because of ’08’s razor-thin margin.

    But why in hell is Obama having to spend big dollars to defend NH, IA and CO? And why in double hell is Team Obama feeling like they have to spend more money to defend them than Romney is spending to take them? Last time around Obama won all of those states going away, with 54-45 margins in each of them.

    Money talks and bullshit walks, I guess.

    In any event, the U.S. Prez by far is the most powerful person in the entire world, and the ripple effects of the decisions he makes often are felt for decades, if not for multiple generations, so in the final analysis whomever wins this thing can and should consider all this dinero to be money very well spent.

  2. superdestroyer says:

    Maybe after this election cycle, people will finally realize that money has almost no effect on elections. The Republicans are spending a tremendous amount of money and will probably get a smaller percentage of the national vote than they got four years ago.

    maybe people should talk about what really effects elections such as demographics, economics, and cultural trends in the U.S. Of course, then people would realize that the U.S. is becoming a one-party-state and that policy and governance in a permanently undivided government will be very different than the current course.

  3. PJ says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    All told, Obama’s team has spent a total of $285 million on broadcast, cable, and radio advertising, while Romney’s camp has spent $117 million. Add in outside spending and the total spent on the general election tops $724.6 million to date.

    That’s $322 million of outside spending.
    Do you think that Obama and Democratic SuperPACs are outspending Romney and Republican SuperPACs?

  4. Hal 10000 says:

    For that amount of money, they could have bought every American a beer. And we would have been better off.