Feel Flooded By Campaign Ads? Tsunami Yet To Come

Michael Bitzer

North Carolina is being inundated with weapons of the campaign air war phase: Television advertising.

The Washington Post has a great tracking tool for presidential campaign advertising spending between the Post and Campaign Media Analysis Group.

With the past month behind us (and an unofficial start to the general campaign), I used the weekly tracking tool to see how much Obama and Romney, along with non-presidential campaigns, spent and where the spending occurred in the various state media markets.

So far, North Carolina has seen $11.5 million spent by the presidential campaigns and the “non-coordinated” groups, according to the Post’s tracker.  The leading media market has been Charlotte, with nearly half of the $11.5 million spent in Charlotte.


In breaking down the spending by week since the May primary, the Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and Greenville-Spartanburg (SC)-Asheville markets have been the big three so far in the state, with Charlotte seeing a significant gap over the others.

This Charlotte advantage also plays out when looking at the Obama, Romney and “all-others” spending in each of the media markets. What is interesting is that in Charlotte, the Obama campaign and “all-others” have been the major players, while the Romney campaign hasn’t taken a lead so far in any of the markets. 

In looking at the weekly expenditures by Obama, Romney, and “all others” in the presidential race, the president’s campaign has been fairly steady in its spending, while the Romney and “all others” saw a considerable up-tick in the middle of May. 

Granted, historically North Carolina isn’t used to this type of advertising attention. It really wasn’t until 2008’s competitive Democratic primary and then the subsequent fall general campaign that the state saw the level of spending. 

In comparison, North Carolina saw over $22.7 million spent by all the presidential campaigns in the state.  According to CNN’s Election Tracker from four years ago, Obama spent over $15.1 million in N.C. and aired 37,235 ads, while McCain spent $3.8 million to air a little over 11,000 ads in the state.

Other groups, including those for the various campaigns, spent over $3.7 million, with most of that amount ($3.3 million) spent by Republicans. 

At the point of mid-June in 2012, North Carolina has seen nearly one-half of the total money spent in the state four years ago. 

And, I think, the money spigots have just started to open up the coming flood over the airwaves.

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