In critical February period, Obama outspent Clinton 3-to-1 on ads
WASHINGTON – Barack Obama’s almost insurmountable lead in the race for the Democratic party presidential nomination is mainly the result of a two-week period in February when he outspent rival Hillary Clinton 3-to-1 on advertising while winning nine straight state races, according to a new analysis released Monday.
Obama beat Clinton in states ranging from Maryland to Nebraska to Hawaii between Feb. 6 and Feb. 19, winning 281 delegates to 163 for Clinton for a net gain of 118, said the study by the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project.
Democratic candidates need the votes of 2,118 delegates to the party’s convention in August to seize the nomination. Obama currently leads Clinton in the race for elected delegates 1,729 to 1,625, a margin of 104, according to a count by MSNBC. When the votes of party leaders and others who have declared their support are factored in, Obama’s lead grows to 2,076 to 1,918, MSNBC says.
The advertising advantage alone does not explain Obama’s February winning streak, but it was likely a factor. The study found that in the nine states he won during that two-week period, Obama was on the air first and had the paid media airwaves to himself for a significant part of the time. During a nine-day advertising battle in Nebraska, for example, Obama was alone on the air for six days unchallenged by Clinton.
“Unbalanced flows of paid information in a generally positive free media environment have the greatest potential to move numbers and influence races,” said Ken Goldstein, a professor who directs the advertising project. “This was the environment between Feb. 5 and Feb. 19 and that is what won Barack Obama the Democratic nomination.”
The study found candidates for the U.S. presidency have spent nearly $200 million on advertising so far during the 2008 election campaign, with Obama leading the pack at nearly $75 million.
Obama has spent nearly $30 million more than Clinton, who has paid $46 million, and almost $20 million more than all the Republicans combined, the study found.
The Illinois senator has spent nearly seven times as much on advertising as the Republican presidential nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has paid $11 million.
Obama and Clinton spent about the same amount on advertising through the Super Tuesday contests on Feb. 5, when nearly half the country voted for presidential nominees.
But Obama outspent Clinton on advertising 3-to-1 over the following two weeks — Feb. 6 to Feb. 19 — and has outspent her 2-to-1 since that time, the study said.
Photo credit: Top: Reuters/Jason Reed (Obama campaigns in Detroit Monday); Bottom: Reuters/Rick Wilking (Clinton campaigns in South Dakota Monday)