Campaign ad spending is the largest expense of any presidential campaign. To date, those ads we love to hate have totaled more than $470 million and the number will rise significantly before the November election.

In 2008, total ad spending by both parties was roughly $515 million, with the Democrats far outspending the Republicans. Democrat ads aired around 571,000 times during the campaign.

Getting the candidate's word out to voters is a science that requires some of the best-known ad producers and celebrities. Analysts skilled at identifying times and locations that maximize the value candidates get from each ad are highly-paid and sought-after, not only in presidential campaigns, but also in U.S. House and Senate races. Some of the facts may surprise you.

Most Popular States
From the perspective of a campaign manager, some states hold more political value. Analysts rate Florida as the most important state for the 2012 election with Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia nearly as important. If you live in California, Illinois, New York or Texas, candidates won't be making a large number of trips to your state this season if ad spending is any indication.

It's no surprise that ad spending in these states is high. The top 10 states identified as likely deciding the election are where the most ad dollars are funneled. Along with the states listed above, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and New Hampshire receive the largest amount of spending, with Florida seeing nearly $20 million in spending alone.

Who Spends the Most?
In 2008, the Obama campaign spent more than twice as much on ad spending than the McCain campaign, but will that hold true again this year? To date, the Obama campaign has spent over $150 million on ads. The Romney campaign has spent about $80 million. That's not the whole story.

Super PACs are not officially part of a candidate's campaign team, but they account for millions in ad spending. The top six Super PACs have spent around $174 million on ads collectively so far, with five out of six endorsing Romney. Romney has more than twice the number of Super PACs paying for ads than Obama.

What's the Tone of the Ads?
So far, about 79% of the ads are negative, with 99% taking a negative turn during the Republican National Convention. According to the Washington Post, the Obama campaign has spent more on negative ads than the Romney campaign, but when super PAC ad spending is added to the total, Republicans have spent more on attack ads.

How Much Do They Have?
Spending more than $400 million on ads is a lot. If the money runs out, so do the candidate's hopes for being sworn in as president. To date, the Obama campaign has raised $655 million and spent about $491 million. The Romney campaign has raised $334 million and spent $255 million, but Romney's donations have shown a sharp increase in the past couple of months, largely because the money is no longer spread over other presumptive Republican nominees.

The Bottom Line
With less than two months remaining until the presidential election, expect to see an increasing number of campaign ads on your TV, computer and mobile device. If you're in one of the top 10 states that analysts have identified as helping to decide the election, you'll likely welcome election day so you can see all of the ads stop. With each passing campaign year, the placement of ads becomes more data-driven and ad spending increases.

Related Articles
  1. Investing

    How Much Money Will It Take to Become President in 2016?

    Learn why the 2016 presidential election is likely to be the most expensive race ever, and estimate how much it is going to take the eventual winner to prevail.
  2. Investing

    Will Donald Trump Be Able to Fund His Entire Campaign?

    Discover why Donald Trump's extravagant wealth and vast net worth may still not be sufficient to self-finance a successful presidential campaign in 2016.
  3. Insurance

    Medicare 101: Do You Need All 4 Parts?

    Medicare is the United States’ health insurance program for those over age 65. Medicare has four parts, but you might not need them all.
  4. Economics

    Understanding Donald Trump's Stance on China

    Find out why China bothers Donald Trump so much, and why the 2016 Republican presidential candidate argues for a return to protectionist trade policies.
  5. Economics

    Will Putin Ever Leave Office?

    Find out when, or if, Russian President Vladimir Putin will ever relinquish control over the Russian government, and whether it matters.
  6. Markets

    Will Paris Attacks Undo the European Union Dream?

    Last Friday's attacks in Paris are transforming the migrant crisis into an EU security threat, which could undermine the European Union dream.
  7. Budgeting

    How Much Will it Cost to Become President In 2016?

    The 2016 race to the White House will largely be determined by who can spend the most money. Here is a look at how much it will cost to win the presidency.
  8. Economics

    Current Probability of Donald Trump as President

    Predict the current odds of a Donald Trump presidency, and understand the factors that have kept him on top and the looming challenges he faces.
  9. Professionals

    The Highest Paying Government Jobs

    Learn how professionals can work for the government and still make high salaries; identify the specific professions that pay the most in government work.
  10. Investing

    Would an Infrastructure Bank Help America's Faltering Roads and Bridges

    Politicians are now calling for a National Infrastructure Bank to create jobs. But would a bank provide adequate funding to fix our roads and bridges?
  1. What is the Social Security administration responsible for?

    The main responsibility of the U.S. Social Security Administration, or SSA, is overseeing the country's Social Security program. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Where are the Social Security administration headquarters?

    The U.S. Social Security Administration, or SSA, is headquartered in Woodlawn, Maryland, a suburb just outside of Baltimore. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Is the Social Security administration a government corporation?

    The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) is a government agency, not a government corporation. President Franklin Roosevelt ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does the role of Medicare/Medicaid affect the drugs sector in the U.S.?

    Medicare and Medicaid have enormous influence on the pharmaceutical, or drugs, sector in the United States. For instance, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are the ethical arguments against government subsidies to companies like Tesla?

    The ethical argument behind government subsidies is that they should be put into place to help industries that will, in turn, ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What do I do if I think an accountant is in violation of the Generally Accepted Accounting ...

    The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) promulgates generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) in the United ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  2. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  3. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  4. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  5. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  6. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
Trading Center