The Obama and McCain presidential campaigns, along with both political party organizations, have flooded the airways with more than $15 million in television advertising since the convention and, despite early predictions of an "expanded playing field," the key states targeted look very much like the same battleground states of 2004, according to an analysis released today by the Wisconsin Advertising Project.
The project, directed by Ken Goldstein of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found that the campaigns were dumping their biggest loads of TV advertising money into Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan.
GOP nominee John McCain has spent $7.8 million in television advertising since his convention early this month, including $4.5 million to air spots in 10 battleground states--with a heavy new focus in Florida.
Democratic nominee Barack Obama has spent almost the same--$7.77 million, with $3.56 million devoted to the 10 battleground states identified by the project.
The post-convention buys, says Goldstein, "give us the first insights into the campaigns' assessments of where they think they are competitive as the fall campaign heats up. Advertising represents reality."
The survey also found that 97 percent of Obama's ads were sponsored by the candidate but that McCain, who accepted public financing for the general election campaign and is limited to $84 million in what he can spend, has run 57 percent of his ads in cooperation with the Republican National Committee. The RNC is playing a major role in funding McCain's fall effort.
The survey also found that Obama has run a higher percentage of negative ads than McCain since the conventions closed—77 percent to 56 percent. All of the Obama ads that mentioned McCain pictured him with or mentioned President Bush. Unsurprisingly, none of McCain's ads made any reference to the current president.