Democratic angst over the amount of money Republicans and their allies are likely to spend this year has so far rung hollow. After all, President Obama's own campaign has vastly outspent Mitt Romney to date, and the incumbent maintains a healthy cash advantage over his Republican rival.
But when we look back at the 2012 campaign, we'll remember this as the week Republican groups dropped the advertising hammer and began seriously closing the financial gap. A review of television-advertising spending over the past week shows Romney and his allies spent more than Obama and his supporters' outside groups for the first time in the general election campaign.
Romney's campaign and pro-Romney outside groups together spent $12.4 million on advertisements to run between June 20 and June 26, the data show, including more than $1 million in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia each — and more than $2 million in Ohio.
Team Obama and outside groups, meanwhile, spent just over $9 million, including more than $1 million apiece in Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. In total, Republicans outspent Democrats in 10 of the 11 swing states where ads ran this week.
And if actions speak louder than words, Republicans are indicating they'll try to put several of the so-called Blue Wall states — states that have voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992 — into play. This week alone, Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney super PAC, and Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group funded in part by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, are spending a combined $1 million in Pennsylvania. The president's campaign is responding with half a million dollars' worth of television time, while the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA is chipping in $200,000.
Because television time is less expensive for campaigns than it is for outside organizations, thanks to Federal Communications Commission rules, Democrats are actually running more ads than Republicans in the Keystone State, according to estimates from a Republican ad buyer watching the state closely. An Obama campaign official notes that Democrats hold a voter-registration advantage of more than 900,000 people, but the team admits they will have to work hard to keep the state in their column.
A new $6 million ad buy from Concerned Women for America, a social-conservative group that opposes Obama's health care law, is injecting more than half a million dollars into Wisconsin and Minnesota, two other Blue Wall states that might be competitive this fall. So far, Democrats have not advertised in either state. In fact, the CWA ads are the first presidential spots to play in Wisconsin this year. Heavy advertising around the gubernatorial recall earlier this month effectively shut out both sides to this point.
To date, Obama's campaign has spent more than $66 million on television advertising. Romney's campaign has spent $14 million, a paltry number in comparison, but he's been bolstered by outside allies. Crossroads GPS has spent more than $22 million on ads, while Restore Our Future and Americans for Prosperity have each dropped more than $10 million.
On the Democratic side, Priorities USA has spent more than $9 million to date, though its spending has ebbed this week. The super PAC made buys totaling about $1.2 million in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia this week.
Subscribers can find complete ad buy data here.