Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the outside groups that support him have spent more than twice as much as President Obama and his Democratic allies in three of the past four weeks, according to sources watching the television advertising market.
This week alone, Romney and outside Republican groups are spending $24 million on broadcast and cable television advertising. Obama's campaign is spending $10.6 million, and a super PAC supporting his campaign is tossing another $1 million onto the airwaves.
Obama's campaign has outspent Romney's campaign on television ads by a three-to-one margin, dropping $236 million compared with $74 million for Romney so far. But outside groups have closed the gap. Between them, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS have spent a combined $105 million, while a Romney-backing super PAC has chipped in another $40 million.
All told, Republicans and Romney's campaign have spent $296 million on television advertising. Democrats and Obama's campaign have spent $273 million so far this year. The $569 million spent so far eclipses the $515 million Obama and Sen. John McCain spent on TV ads during the whole of the 2008 campaign.
Republicans have spent more than Democrats in eight battleground states -- Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Democrats hold spending advantages in Colorado, New Hampshire, and Ohio, the data show.
Voters in Florida and Ohio each have seen more than $100 million in television advertising this year. This week alone, both sides have dropped more than $6 million into each state; Obama's campaign is spending $1.9 million in Florida and $2.4 million in Ohio, while Romney's campaign is spending $1.2 million and $1.1 million in Florida and Ohio, respectively.
Virginia voters, experiencing their second presidential cycle as a battleground, are getting a similar dose. Both sides have combined to spend $81 million in the commonwealth. This week, Obama is spending $1.9 million, Romney $1 million, and the pro-Romney Restore Our Future super PAC $1.3 million in Virginia.
At least some voters in Florida and North Carolina will get a respite in early September. Obama's campaign has canceled its advertising flights in the Panama City, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville markets in Florida, and in the Raleigh and Greensboro markets in North Carolina between Sept. 4 and Sept. 10.
An Obama official said the campaign was simply re-weighting advertising dollars between markets, and that this should not be viewed as a sign that the campaign was pessimistic about those states. One Republican watching the advertising market pointed out that the free media the Democratic convention will generate during that week will allow the Obama campaign to save money.
Both campaigns are targeting key media markets in each state in hopes of reaching the right voters. Obama has spent most heavily in the Denver, Orlando, Tampa, Las Vegas, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C. markets; in each market, the campaign has shelled out more than $8 million to reach voters on television. Romney's campaign, which started spending on general election advertising later in the year, has spent more than $4 million each in Denver, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Washington.