When it comes to saturating the airwaves and cable outlets with political advertisements, no entity has spent more in the 2012 presidential elections than the campaign of President Barack Obama. Through July, his campaign spent more than $111 million broadcasting its message–more than twice the $48 million spent by his GOP rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Both campaigns will disclose their itemized contributions and expenditures for August with the Federal Election Commission today.
The Obama campaign's spending dominance is another product of the fundraising advantage the incumbent has enjoyed throughout the campaign. Through July, Obama's campaign had raised $101 million more than Romney's. Add in the amounts raised by the RNC and the DNC, and the joint fundraising committees both candidates have set up to draw in big donors, and Obama extends his advantage–he's raised some $162 million more. We'll update those numbers when the FEC filings are released.
The Romney campaign's cash disadvantage led it to borrow $20 million in August, in part because the Obama campaign all but controlled the air wars. Of Obama's $111 million advertising outlays, the campaign spent more than $38 million in June and about $39 million in July. Romney spent $10 million and $15 million in those months. Altogether, the Romney campaign has spent just $30 million since securing the Republican nomination.
One equalizer for Romney are the outside spending groups that have proliferated after the Citizens United decision. They've spent more than $137 million opposing Obama, of which $104 million was spent on advertising. Groups opposing Romney–including those who backed his Republican rivals for the presidential nomination–have spent about $42 million. Because outside groups report their expenditures within 48 hours, those figures, unlike the totals for the campaigns, are current.
Romney's reliance on outside groups may well undercut his strategy, outlined in a video of a campaign event obtained by Mother Jones, of portraying Obama as being in "over his head" as opposed to using harsher terms.