LANSING – The presidential candidates’ campaigns and their supporters spent $13.6 million for television advertising in Michigan between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Sen. John McCain’s campaign spent $6.15 million, while Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign spent $5.48 million.
Among supporting groups, the Republican National Committee and two 527 groups, Veterans for Freedom and American Issues Project, spent $1.9 million, mainly to attack Obama. Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO spent a modest $57,000 in two markets in support of Obama.
Advertising data were collected by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from the public files of state broadcasters and cable systems between August 25th and 29th. Dollar amounts represent gross sales.
McCain’s campaign took to the air immediately after Memorial Day and has spent an average of $439,000 per week. Obama’s campaign started advertising in most locations around Michigan on June 20th and has spent an average of $548,000 per week since then.
Summer ad spending is up by more than 40 percent compared to the summer months of the 2004 presidential campaign, when television spending was $9.5 million. However, presidential advertising for the general election began in March in 2004. George W. Bush, John Kerry, the Democratic National Committee and pro-Kerry 527 groups spent $21.5 million overall by Labor Day 2004.
This is a pivot point for the McCain campaign because McCain has to spend his privately raised funds by the time he accepts his party’s nomination on Thursday. After that point, the McCain campaign will be limited to $84 million in public funds. Obama will continue to raise money from contributors throughout the fall.
As of the last reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Obama had raised a total of $376 million and had $65.8 million in cash on hand as of July 31st. McCain had raised a total of $171 million and had $21.4 million cash on hand.
McCain will be relying on the Republican National Committee to keep him competitive financially throughout the fall. The RNC already bought $1.2 million worth of television advertising in Michigan by Labor Day. The RNC reported $75.1 million in cash on hand as of July 31st, while the Democratic National Committee had $7.7 million in cash on hand.
Among 527s supporting McCain, the Veterans for Freedom spent $209,000 in July in two markets, Grand Rapids and Flint/Tri-Cities.
The AFL-CIO spent its $57,000 answering the ‘commander-in-chief’ issue in July in Marquette and the Tri-Cities.
The American Issues Project, whose ads tie Obama to former weatherman William Ayers, spent $497,000 the last week of August in every market except Detroit and Marquette. AIP’s ads were protested by thousands of emailers, with some stations being bombarded with protests before the ads began to run.
The pace of presidential advertising should quicken in the traditional post-Labor Day campaign season. Bush, Kerry and their supporters bought $16.4 million worth of TV after Labor Day 2004. Given the faster spending pace this summer compared to 2004 and Michigan’s apparent criticality, it’s likely that television spending will top $20 million for the remainder of this year’s campaign. In comparison, the DeVos vs. Granholm gubernatorial campaign featured more than $38 million worth of television advertising in the last two months of the 2006 campaign.
DCCC plays hard in the 7th
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already purchased $1.15 million of TV ad time in October in the Grand Rapids and Lansing markets. While it is not clear at this point whether those spots are exclusively targeting the 7th District, where state Sen. Mark Schauer is challenging incumbent Rep. Tim Walberg, that race certainly is the prime target. The DCCC has also purchased air time in the Detroit market, where former state Sen. Gary Peters is challenging incumbent Rep. Joe Knollenberg.
The DCCC had a four-to-one cash advantage over the National Republican Congressional Committee as of July 31st. The DCCC had $56.5 million cash on hand, while the NRCC had $14.2 million.