New research from Kantar Media's CMAG paints a dramatic picture of the unprecedented amount of ads that voters are being exposed to this cycle – as much as three to twelve times as many as in past elections:
As of early September 2008, we had seen 832,291 spots representing all political advertising on local broadcast TV for the 2008 cycle up until that point, with an ultimate total of 2.29 million by Election Night. In other words, by this point in the cycle, we were 36% of the way there.
As of early this month, we have seen 1.3 million ad occurrences for all political advertising on local spot TV. If we're 36% of the way there once again, that means we have another 2.3 million ad occurrences left to air in less than two months for an ultimate total of 3.6 million. That's about 43,000 spot occurrences per day for the rest of the election cycle, give or take a few.
They produced the following chart to show the differences between 2008 and 2012 regarding the number of battleground spots thus far seen:
They also explain how outside spending, mostly from Team GOP, is what makes this cycle so different:
The explosion of Republican groups — super PACs, 501(c)(4) organizations, trade associations with political arms — is without question the biggest development in all 2012 advertising. At the presidential level alone, between April 10 (when Romney unofficially claimed the party's nomination) and early September, these groups accounted for 55% of all presidential ads aired on the Republican side. The remaining 45% were aired by Romney and the Republican National Committee. During this same timeframe in 2008, only 3% of all Republican ads were sponsored by outside groups; 97% were aired by the McCain campaign or the RNC.
On the Democratic side, the difference between 2008 and 2012 is negligible: 91% of all presidential ads aired during the April-September period in 2012 were sponsored by either the Obama campaign or the Democratic National Committee; just 9% of the ads aired came from outside groups such as Priorities USA Action. In 2008, the breakdown was 96% to 4%.
In new ads today, we already mentioned a shameless attack ad from Crossroads GPS. The Romney campaign is also out with a new China-themed attack spot, which they likely intend to target Rust Belt workers with. It claims Obama has allowed US trade to be harmed by China's "cheating" (currency manipulation). The size and scope of the ad buy is not yet clear:
Meawhile, the Obama campaign is readying a widespread, one-month $4.7 million ad buy in Florida. They also released yet another web video hitting Romney for not releasing all his tax returns. In down-ticket outside spending news, the pro-Democrat SEIU/Majority (Super) PAC is putting up an ad attacking GOP Senate candidate Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin (ad buy size unknown):
And lastly, the wing-nut scaremonger group Let Freedom Ring, a dark-money 501(c)(4), has a new web video out trying to chastise Obama for apparently supporting the Muslim Brotherhood (ad buy size/scope unknown – it may never air):
Ad War archive here.