President Obama’s advertising advantage is so pronounced that he is running more ads than not only Mitt Romney’s campaign, but all of the outside groups supporting the Republican nominee combined.
Mr. Obama has bought 6,300 spots between August and Election Day on Cleveland’s ABC affiliate, WEWS-TV; Mr. Romney has bought only 1,600 through this week, and even adding in the Republican National Committee, the super PACs and nonprofits supporting him, the total rises to only 4,500. Tallies at other swing-state stations are similar.
American Crossroads, a Karl Rove-linked group, and Americans For Prosperity, helmed by one of the billionaire Koch brothers, have been carrying far more water for Mr. Romney, at 830 and 340 ads respectively, than has Restore Our Future, which carried the candidate through the primaries and has run 120 on the station.
Mr. Romney’s reliance on a network of party and outside groups to accommodate large donors makes an efficient and cohesive media strategy difficult for him. That’s been compounded by the fact that he’s opted for an “incremental” strategy, buying ads only a week ahead of time.
Though the groups are barred from coordinating, super PACs can monitor what a campaign is doing and react because ad buys are public information. But in the case of Mr. Romney, it’s “vice versa,” with super PACS taking the lead, said Michael O’Brien, the Cleveland station’s sales chief.
Adding to the crush on the airwaves, political groups flush with cash have planned far more extra-long “creative” spots than expected, Mr. O’Brien said. Through this month, Mr. Obama will be running the rare two-minute advertisement 121 times, spanning an entire commercial break.
Americans For Prosperity and the Republican Jewish Coalition have been running one-minute ads, though they haven’t purchased extended ads in the final days before the election.
Candidates were willing to pay top dollar for spots that allowed them to connect with wide swaths of important demographics. Candidates favored daytime’s “The Dr. Oz Show,” a chance to connect with women. And they paid an average of $12,000 per 30 seconds to run 54 ads during Ohio State University football.