Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and outside groups that support him will spend more than twice as much as President Obama's campaign on television advertising this week, according to sources watching the advertising market. But Obama is making down payments on the future, spending tens of millions of dollars on advertising that won't run until September and October.
Republicans will spend a total of $30.3 million on television advertising this week. More than two-thirds of that money will come from Restore Our Future, a Romney-backing super PAC; Crossroads GPS, a 501(c)(4) organization that doesn't have to disclose its donors; and the Republican National Committee. Romney's campaign itself is spending $8.75 million, the data show.
Obama's campaign is spending $13.6 million on ads running in nine states this week, while Priorities USA Action, a pro-Obama super PAC, will drop another $1 million into five battleground states.
Both sides continue to spend most heavily in Ohio and Florida. The two states account for $15 million in ad spending this week, a third of the total amount spent this week. Voters in Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and North Carolina all will see more than $3 million in advertising this week.
But Obama's team has already purchased $64 million in advertisements that will run between Sept. 1 and Election Day. The president's campaign has locked in $5.2 million in television space during the four weeks after Labor Day, and a much higher $7.4 million per week during the month of October.
The early spending is going to grow as the campaign winds to a close, but buying early allows the campaign to purchase advertisements at lower rates than will be available late in the game. American Crossroads, the super PAC arm of the mega-donor organization, has also purchased millions in late advertising, although Romney's campaign has not yet.
To date, the two sides have purchased $457 million in television advertising. Voters in Florida and Ohio have each seen more than $88 million in advertising, while Virginia voters have seen over $63 million in television spots.
There are early signs of changing strategies as campaigns shift resources between states. Obama's campaign is spending less in Pennsylvania this week than it has in recent weeks, a sign that the campaign's confidence in winning the state is on the rise. A Quinnipiac University survey conducted for CBS and The New York Times released this week showed Obama leading Romney by 11 points in the Keystone State.
Republicans are finally making a play for Wisconsin, returning to a state in which voters have already been subjected to tens of millions of dollars in political advertising thanks to a gubernatorial recall election earlier this year. This week, Restore Our Future is spending nearly half a million dollars on new advertising in the Badger State, while the RNC will invest a much smaller $30,000. Democrats have not spent much money in Wisconsin, and party strategists say their private polling shows Obama leading Romney by a margin somewhere in the high single digits.
But across the board, the Republican spending advantage is making itself clear. Of the nine states in which Obama is advertising this week, Republicans are spending twice as much or more in eight — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In Ohio, the one state where the ratio is less than 2-to-1, Romney and his allies still have the edge, dropping $5.25 million compared with $3.1 million the Democrats are spending.
The two wings of the Crossroads organizations have spent more than any other outside group, and by a wide margin. Factoring in this week's spending and the late reservations, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS have spent a combined $105 million on paid advertising. That's more than twice the $51 million Romney's campaign has spent.
Obama's campaign has spent a total $215 million to date — more than two-thirds of the $307 million the campaign has raised so far. Some of that spending has been in conjunction with the Democratic National Committee, which is allowed to spend about $20 million in direct coordination with its presidential candidate.
Any amount over the $20 million must be spent by an independent expenditure unit that is walled off and unable to coordinate with the candidate. The RNC has now spent more than $15 million in independent advertising, a sign they have far more in the bank than the amount they are allowed to directly coordinate with Romney.