Final 2012 Ad Count: 1.2 Million

Photograph by Obama campaign via AP Images

In this image taken from video is a TV ad by the Obama For America campaign in which President Barack Obama speaks to voters in Spanish. The ad titled "Buen Ejemplo," or "A Good Example" went on air in the U.S. on Oct. 9, 2012.

President Barack Obama’s re-election committee was responsible for more than four of every 10 of the 1.2 million presidential campaign ads for the general election, twice as many as those aired by Republican challenger Mitt Romney, a final count of broadcast advertising shows.

Not including those spots broadcast nationally, residents of only 14 of the 50 states saw any commercials about the presidential campaign, led by the 195,000 ads in Ohio and 180,000 in Florida from April 10 to Nov. 6, according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks political ad

And 87 percent of those spots were negative, the analysis shows.

“As for negative ads, this is not surprising,” said David Primo, a political science professor at the University of Rochester in New York. “A crucial part of a campaign is drawing a contrast with your opponent, and this is often defined as negative.”

Obama’s campaign aired more than 550,000 spots on broadcast and national cable channels from April 10 to Nov. 6.  The cost of those ads was an estimated $325 million, about 37 percent of the almost $875 million that CMAG estimated was spent on all those campaign ads. Candidates receive the lowest possible rate for TV commercials, unlike political parties and outside groups.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, aired more than 216,000 spots at an estimated cost of almost $142 million.

“The Obama ad war carpet bombing may have helped Obama get his message across more effectively,” said Steffen Schmidt, a political science professor at Iowa State University in Ames.

Both candidates received help from outside groups, most notably aligned super-political action committees. The pro-Obama Priorities USA Action almost played the pro-Romney Restore Our Future to a draw; Priorities ran almost 64,000 ads and Restore ran almost 70,000. Romney also received help from American Crossroads, the pro-Romney super-PAC founded with the help of Karl Rove. The group ran more than 81,000 ads, all of them attacking Obama.

 

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