The final 31
2 weeks of ad spending is likely to be the most concentrated in U.S. political history, in part because the field of battle is narrowly focused on nine key swing states. CMAG, the ad tracking firm, estimated Friday that about half as many television markets feature presidential campaign ads this year compared with 2008, even though the volume has skyrocketed.
Recent spending figures show a surprising move of resources into Florida, the biggest ad battleground, with 10 media markets and some of the most-expensive airtime in the country. In the first week of October, $1 of every $4 spent by the Obama campaign on broadcast advertising went to Florida; for the American Crossroads super PAC and its affiliate, Crossroads GPS, nearly $1 of every $3 was spent there.
Obama and Romney have gone up and down in Sunshine State polls in recent months, with the president posting strong numbers before the Denver debate but Romney gaining since.
The two sides have spent more than $100 million on ads in the state, with a slight advantage to Republicans.
Tad Devine, a top Democratic strategist, argues that in Florida, the Obama campaign “forced Romney to defend what should have been a Republican state.”
Florida is followed closely in combined spending by Virginia ($96 million through last Sunday), Ohio ($93 million) and North Carolina ($70 million), CMAG estimates show.
Small interest groups are also getting into the mix. The American Energy Alliance will air $2 million worth of TV and radio ads in coal-country states through early November attacking Obama’s energy policies, according to spokesman Benjamin Cole.
Many strategists expect the tone of many ads to change markedly during the final stretch as the campaigns shift from attacking each other to presenting a “closing argument” for their election. That time has not quite arrived yet, however, as attack ads still dominate.
The Obama camp rolled out a pair of ads Friday attacking Romney for his stand on contraception services and his defense of paying a 14 percent tax rate on $20 million in personal income. “Lower tax rates for him than us,” the spot says. “Is that the way to grow America?”
Romney, meanwhile, is bombarding battlegrounds with ads attacking Obama’s economic policies. Restore Our Future is running $6 million worth of spots focused on unemployment in Florida, Iowa and Virginia.
“We’re told we’re going forward, even as we fall further behind,” the ad’s narrator says. “This is the new normal. This is President Obama’s economy.”