Democratic nominee Barack Obama's poll numbers may have flattened in recent days in the toss-up Sunshine State, but it's not for lack of trying. Or, rather, not for lack of advertising.
Between October 6 and October 22, Obama ran 15,887 ads in Florida, compared with the 4,662 aired by Republican nominee John McCain, according to a Nielson Co. analysis released this afternoon. That means Obama has placed a whopping 240 percent more ads than McCain in trying to win the 27 Electoral College votes still up for grabs in Florida. That trove is the country's fourth-largest, trailing only California (55), Texas (34), and New York (31). And it's the only one of those big four electoral pots still up for grabs.
Nielson also found that in seven key swing states, including Florida, Obama overall placed 150 percent more ads than McCain during that same time period: 53,049 for the Democrat vs. 21,106 for the Republican. The states analyzed also included Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Missouri, and Virginia.
In addition to Florida, the candidates focused their ad dollars most heavily in the battlegrounds of Ohio, where Obama has been creeping ahead in the polls, and Pennsylvania, where he has a double-digit lead. Obama ran 13,289 ads in Ohio (20 electoral votes) and 9,546 in Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes) between October 6 and October 22. McCain ran 5,606 in Ohio and 4,740 in Pennsylvania during that time. Nielson, which will update the advertising numbers daily until Election Day, said that the ads counted include national and local spots as well as syndicated advertising. Local cable ads are not included in the tally.
The numbers underscore the dramatic fundraising advantage enjoyed by Obama, who reneged on his pledge to participate in public financing if his opponent did the same, and instead chose to opt out and raise unlimited funds. He's piled up more than $600 million so far, and midmonth had about $66 million in the bank. McCain accepted public financing and is limited to spending $84 million, though the Republican National Committee has taken an active financial role. It spent $77 million through September on efforts to help the McCain campaign, and still has about $59 million in its accounts. McCain as of midmonth had about $25 million in the bank.