Mitt Romney is worth up to $250 million, according to analyses of his public-disclosure records. But even his entire fortune wouldn't be enough to cover the amount of money that his campaign, President Obama's, and their allies have spent on television advertising over the last two and a half months.
All told, the White House contest has generated more than a quarter of a billion dollars in television spending, according to sources tracking the ad market. Democrats, Republicans, and outside groups have combined to purchase $290 million in television time so far across 13 states that are expected to be competitive come November.
This week alone, the players spent $23.8 million targeting undecided voters. That doesn't include the millions of dollars those outside groups are beginning to spend on advertising that will run in the future: Over the past week, the American Crossroads super PAC purchased nearly $40 million in advertising that won't run until September and October.
For the first time all year, Republicans began outspending their Democratic counterparts in a significant number of states. Romney and his GOP allies outspent Obama and his side in Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Wisconsin between July 10 and July 16. Republican groups spent $12.4 million on advertising this week, $1 million more than Obama and his Democratic allies spent.
Florida, where both sides spent a combined $5.5 million this week, continues to be ground zero in the fight for the presidency. That amount is but an appetizer for the spending to come; Crossroads has bought more than $10 million in ads that will run between Sept. 4 and Nov. 6. All told, campaigns and the outside groups have bought more than $57 million in advertising in the Sunshine State.
Both sides also spent heavily in Ohio, where they dropped nearly $4 million on ads this week; and Virginia, where they combined for more than $3 million in ad spending. Voters in Colorado and North Carolina saw $2 million in advertising this week, while more than $1 million was spent in Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire.
Obama's campaign, which still has a financial advantage over Romney, spent more than $10 million this week across nine states. Romney's team has begun increasing its weekly ad spending, dropping more than $5 million on spots in eight states. Crossroads GPS, the nonprofit arm of the Crossroads family organized under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, spent just barely more than Romney's campaign on its own ads in nine states.
The bulk of the spending has come in the nine swing states seen as most competitive--Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Ohio is close on Florida's heels: Both sides have spent a combined $53 million on advertising there. Virginia and North Carolina voters have seen more than $30 million each in ads, while voters in Iowa and Colorado have each been subjected to more than $21 million in ad spending.
But some Romney-backing outside groups are spending small amounts in less competitive states in hopes of putting them in play. Americans for Prosperity, the group backed by the libertarian Koch brothers, spent another $102,000 in Minnesota and $30,000 in New Mexico this week; Crossroads GPS put $454,000 into Michigan.