Political Advertising

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By Scott Swanson

East Lansing, Mich

It’s official. The 2012 presidential campaign is the single most advertised election ever. Over $1 billion has been spent on over one million television advertisements, in findings released by the Wesleyan Media Project. The report goes on to say that Barack Obama’s campaign has sponsored half of all political advertisements. Mitt Romney’s campaign has been boosted by outside sources, funding over a quarter of a million advertisements. These outside sources are well-funded conservative groups, keeping Romney even in the advertising battle. These numbers overshadow the last presidential election by over 200,000 television advertisements, and that gap will continue to grow into Election Day.

The Wall Street Journal shows Michigan accounting for $26 million in political advertising, the 10th highest state overall, with $19 million of that from Republican sources. Lansing itself has been exposed to over 3,500 presidential television ads worth $1 million.

The large surprise is that online advertising has not seen this boost as television. The Wall Street Journal mentions that online spending has increased over the last presidential election, but not even close to the extent predicted a year ago. Much more efforts have been spent garnering Facebook likes and Twitter re-tweets, than spent on extra visibility online.

Finally, the sign of the advertising times is the amount of negative ads directed towards the opposite candidate. 85 percent of Obama’s ads are negative ads, while 91 percent of Romney’s ads are negative. Whether or not the advertisements are effective, the onslaught of advertising will happen for every election in a catch-22 format that John Geer explains. For every dollar that one party spends on advertising, the other party cannot afford not to spend a dollar themselves. Still, $1 billion is a lot of dollars.

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