Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

While the GOP Spends More in Wisconsin, Voters See More Obama Ads

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In Wisconsin, the Democratic campaign has been almost exclusively run by Obama, not super PAC groups. Because federal candidates by law get the lowest advertising rate available to commercial advertisers, they have been running a very cost-efficient campaign. The Republican campaign, however, has been far more reliant on outside groups. Big conservative super PACs such as Crossroads GPS and Restore our Future have added a lot of firepower to the Republican message at critical times when Mitt Romney has been stretched for funds. But it’s less cost-effective, since those groups often pay far more than candidates for the same air time.

Over the past 30 days in Wisconsin, Republicans have outspent Democrats in the presidential race by about 50% on broadcast television, according to estimates by Kantar Media CMAG, which tracks political advertising.

But Democrats have aired more ads.

In the past 30 days, the pro-Obama side has enjoyed an advertising edge in Wisconsin’s three biggest media markets: Milwaukee, Green Bay and Madison. Together, they reach more than three-quarters of the state’s voters.

Over that same period, the pro-Romney side has enjoyed an edge in the much smaller markets of La Crosse and Wausau, as well as the small pockets of Wisconsin voters included in two Minnesota markets — Minneapolis and Duluth.

In Wisconsin, 82% of the Democratic ads in the past month have been aired by the Obama campaign, according to CMAG. The rest were aired by the pro-Obama group Priorities USA.

By contrast, less the half — 46% — of the GOP presidential ads in Wisconsin during that time were aired by the Romney campaign. The rest were aired independently. The biggest independent advertiser was the pro-Romney PAC Restore our Future, responsible for about 30% of the GOP ads in that time. Other pro-Romney groups included Crossroads GPS, Ending Spending Action Fund, the NRA Political Victory Fund, and the American Future Fund, according to CMAG.

Without those groups, Romney would be facing a huge ad deficit in Wisconsin. Since both campaigns went up on the air last month, Obama has aired more than twice as many ads as Romney in Milwaukee, Green Bay and Madison. With them, Romney’s deficit in these markets has been far smaller.

All information for this article can be found here.

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