As is customary in California campaigns, both candidates poured the bulk of their money into communicating with voters through television and radio advertisements. Whitman spent more than $120 million — two-thirds of her campaign treasury — producing and airing commercials. Brown spent for that purpose nearly three-quarters of the $40 million he raised. Between Sept. 1and Election Day, Whitman spent $40 million buying airtime to Brown's $29 million. But much of Brown's spending occurred in the final month, allowing him to maximize his efforts precisely when voters were preparing to cast ballots.
The reports underscored the strategic advantage enjoyed by Brown because he, unlike Whitman, had no significant primary opposition. Although Whitman spent about three times more than Brown on campaign mailings overall, more than half her mail spending came during her hard-fought primary race against then-California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. In the general election, Whitman spent only about $600,000 more than Brown's $4.2 million on direct mail. The former EBay chief executive spent another $660,000 on campaign paraphernalia handed out at her events, including her glossy 48-page policy booklet and lime green "MEGaWomen" T-shirts. Brown spent $92,700 on those costs.