State of Play: Independent Ad Spending

You won’t hear “I’m Barack Obama, and I approve this message” or “I’m Mitt Romney, and I approve this message” on these commercials, but if you live in a swing state, you’re seeing plenty about both candidates from political groups unaffiliated with either candidate. The spending on those ads shows you’re probably hearing quite a bit more about President Barack Obama than you are about Republican challenger Mitt Romney from these independent expenditure groups. And five out of six of those ads are negative.

Overall this cycle, Obama has seen $229,751,439 million in these outside group-sponsored ads, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. A staggering $191,861,334 has been spent on ads opposing him, and just $30,879,103 has been spent to say nice things about him. American Crossroads tops the list of those spending against the president, with $44,054,673 so far, followed closely by the super-PAC supporting Romney, Restore Our Future not far behind with $42,788,616. Americans for Prosperity with $30,800,720 and the Republican National Committee with $27,941,292 round out the top four.

The major spenders supporting Obama are the Democratic National Committee with $18,155,790 and the Service Employees International Union with $4,197,633.

The spending on Romney is half of what was spent on Obama by independent expenditure groups — $111,225,052 — with $43,338,882 supporting his campaign and $67,375,517 opposing it. The super-PAC supporting Obama, Priorities USA Action, has put up $44,279,410 in negative ads. Winning Our Future, formed to support Newt Gingrich’s failed presidential bid, is the next closest contender in anti-Romney spending with $4,031,934. The RNC has spent more than any of the other outside groups on ads with a positive spin on Romney’s candidacy — $20,826,762.

And the onslaught continues. American Crossroads just launched a new $11 million ad buy in eight states. The ad features a housewife in the kitchen asking the president (who’s on screen in his own ad), “Where are the jobs you promised? The trillions you spent — where did it all go? What’s there to show for all that new debt? And if we’re in a recovery, why are we making less? My family can’t afford another four years of this.”

It’s coming to a TV near you today, if you live in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio or Virginia.

There is some respite from the onslaught of political ads in live television available tonight: You can tune into round 2 of Obama v. Romney, the second presidential debate. It might be the only political ad-free TV you’ll get to see … at least until the next presidential debate.

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