How much are Obama and McCain Spending a Day? - The Intrepid

Sunday, November 02, 2008

How much are Obama and McCain Spending a Day?

Elections are expensive. American Presidential elections are ridiculously expensive. As of October 27th, Barack Obama and John McCain’s campaigns have spent a combined $866 million. Further estimates suggest that the total spent on all federal races this election cycle will be upwards of $5.3 billion. That’s approximately the GDP of Nicaragua.


Throughout the month of October, both the Obama and McCain campaigns have increased spending. Last week the Obama campaign spent $33 million, almost 30-times as much as the McCain campaign, which only spent $1.1 million.

However, these numbers are somewhat misleading. Since McCain opted into public financing, the RNC (Republican National Committee) has picked up the tab. That includes Sarah Palin’s $150,000 clothing bill. Last week the RNC spent $20.1 million. The DNC (Democratic National Committee) has yet to release data on its expenditures.

Without the DNC’s numbers it is hard to estimate how much is being spent per day. But, based on the Obama campaign’s numbers it looks as if the campaign is spending somewhere upwards of $5 million a day. By contrast, the McCain campaign is only spending $3.1 million a day.

For the most part, this money has been spent on ads. Thousands of them. Obama is running approximately 7,700 ads a day in both the local and national markets. McCain is only running half as many ads and many of his ads are only 30 seconds long. Obama’s are usually a minute or more.

In almost every part of the country, Obama is outspending McCain by huge margins. Obama’s 30-minute ad last Wednesday alone cost the campaign between $4-5 million.

While spending this year is almost 24% greater than in 2004, over-the-top expenditures have always been part of American political culture. George Washington spent hundreds of dollars on booze to win the votes of his neighbors in his first election to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1758. In 1840, the Whigs spent all their money on log cabins and hard cider in attempt to turn William Henry Harrison into the common man. Finally and most notably, William McKinley spent $7 million ($145 million today) on his campaign against William Jennings Bryan in 1986. At the time, the most ever spent on a campaign.

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