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Obama outflanked Romney in air assault

November 02, 2012|By Matea Gold
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WASHINGTON—President Obama’s reelection campaign has run more than 500,000 television commercials since the start of the general election in April, outstripping Republican challenger Mitt Romney on the air by a margin of 2.6 to 1, according to the latest study by the Wesleyan Media Project

Through Oct. 29, Obama and the Democratic National Committee spent a record $281.1 million on broadcast and national cable ads, according to the Wesleyan project, which analyzes data from the ad tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG.

Romney and the Republican National Committee spent $150.6 million between April 11 and Oct. 29.

That’s not even the total spending: The firm does not track spots on local cable networks, which likely have aired at least 20% of the ads run on broadcast television.

While Obama has enjoyed a consistent advantage on the airwaves, conservative "super PACs" and other outside groups sponsored more than half of the pro-Romney commercials, helping the Republican candidate nearly make up the gap. When all outside efforts are included, pro-Obama ads outnumbered pro-Romney ads by fewer than 50,000 spots.

In all, nearly 1.1 million presidential campaign ads have aired this year – including 400,000 just in October. That translates to 39% more spots than were run in 2008.

Throughout much of the fall, Obama enjoyed a strong lead over Romney in nearly every major market in battleground states, but the GOP candidate and his allies began to gain ground toward the end of last month. During the week of Oct. 22, nine out of the top 25 media markets saw more pro-Romney ads than pro-Obama spots, the Wesleyan project found.  Among them were Tampa, Fla., and Toledo and Columbus, Ohio.

Still, the huge air assault that many expected the Romney campaign to drop in the final weeks has not been apparent, said Michael Franz, co-director of the Wesleyan project.

“They’re closing the gap, but it just hasn’t been the kind of shock and awe that I thought we’d see,” he said.

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